UTICA - Congressman Anthony Brindisi is among those calling on the state to rethink the upcoming criminal justice reform laws.
Brindisi announced he is part of a bipartisan Congressional delegation letter that was sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo urging him and the state legislature to hit the pause button on the new bail reform law.
Brindisi joined New York Congressional members Tom Reed, Max Rose, Peter King, John Katko, Elise Stefanik, and Lee Zeldin to share their concerns with the governor.
"When you're talking about certain crimes like manslaughter, like harassment, like assault, animal cruelty, other crimes which are very violent in nature, eliminating cash bail for those crimes I don't think is the right way to go," Brindisi said. "I think its important that we have criminal justice reform but not at the expense of sacrificing the rights of victims, and I think this is an example of a law that may work in the city, but here in Upstate New York, this is the wrong way to go."
Brindisi says he hopes the state legislature and the governor will take a look at this law and hear the outcry from law enforcement and district attorneys who have raised concerns on the effect it could have on public safety.
The bipartisan letter to Governor Cuomo is below:
Dear Governor Cuomo,
After hearing from multiple district attorneys from across the state and many local city officials, we would like to express our concern over the recently passed criminal justice reform bill in New York state which will be implemented this January.
While we agree criminal justice reform has long been needed around the country, New York State’s new, soft-on-crime bail laws, which will let dangerous criminals roam free, endanger their victims, and hamstring the authorities who want to hold them accountable, is not the answer.
For example, local district attorneys must turnover witness names, statements and contact information to the defense within 15 days of first appearance, and with the bail reforms implemented in this law, almost all defendants will be on the street. A defendant will also have access to the crime scene through a court order – even if it is the home of the victim. Further, grand jury testimony- which has long been a secret by statute – must now be turned over within 15 days of arraignment on a felony case, along with the addresses of witnesses.
With these changes Mr. Governor, we are concerned about violent criminals being released back into our communities.
Additionally, this new law will cripple local counties and municipalities that will be forced to pass along new, unfunded mandates required in the bill to local taxpayers. We already know people are fleeing the state because of tax and spend policies coming out of Albany. As representatives of New York, we do not want this exodus further fueled by the high cost of policies from the State Capitol being pushed down to the local level.
Local district attorneys have estimated their operating budgets will increase by at least 30 to 40 percent due to this law, with costs coming from overburdensome discovery standards that New York state cannot even comply with. For example, lab results must be turned over within 15 days before the start of trial readiness, but New York State police labs are backed up for months. Under the requirements of this new law, district attorneys will be forced to turn to costly private labs to avoid speedy trial dismissal.
Therefore, we request that you put forward reforms to be considered immediately in this upcoming legislative session to protect law abiding citizens, victims of crime and our already overburdened taxpayers.