Cuomo calls to end cash bail, local authorities explain what it could mean for the area

Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to eliminate cash bail for certain types of crime, but some local authorities believe it would create even more problems.

Posted: Jan 17, 2019 8:52 PM
Updated: Jan 17, 2019 11:28 PM

UTICA, NY - Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to eliminate cash bail for certain types of crime, but some local authorities believe it would create even more problems.

"One of the biggest charges that we have in this county and many other counties that have the Thruway running through it, or other major interstates, is driving with your license suspended," said Scott McNamara, Oneida County District Attorney. "I really don't think that's what they intend to do is to charge people with driving without a license, suspended without bail, pending a trial. But now we're going to get rid of cash bail so we have no way of keeping that person or connected to that court, so to say, or come back to the court."

The governor's plan would do away with cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies. Cuomo said cash bail discriminates against people who cannot afford it.

Herkimer County Sheriff Chris Farber said eliminating cash bail could have a positive impact on many jails.

"We have quite a few people in our jail pending trial or court action that are on bail," Farber said. "Sometimes it's not a lot of bail. I see it and other sheriffs see it, as dropping population in the jails."

Farber said there is a possibility of someone fleeing the area and not reporting for their court date.

"If they don't appear in court they're going to come to jail, because there will be a warrant issued for them," he said.

McNamara said Oneida County doesn't have have an overpopulation of inmates.

"It's disingenuous - the argument that the jails are full - it just isn't true. at least not in Oneida County," he said. "When I was the president of the DA's association I requested a compete survey of the whole state. Not every DA's office could expend the time and energy to do it. But the ones that did, we did not see this overwhelming population of inmates being held for substantial periods of time on low-level crimes with low bail. Everybody in Oneida County that was in jail belonged in jail."

McNamara said advocates for bail reform use information that doesn't consider what the person is being held on instead of the crime they were arrested for.

"Sometimes people get arrested on a misdemeanor, but they're actually not being held on the misdemeanor. They're being held on a parole violation," he said. "People show up in on bail on a low-level or on a non-violent crime, when in reality they're in jail because they violated the terms of their drug court conditions."

McNamara added that some people steal for a living. He said he believes ending cash bail would make the state open to more criminal activity.

"It's going to make New York State a target for certain criminal activity by out of state," he said. "When people say 'oh that won't happen'... there's a picture of a man right outside my hall that died getting a group of people who came to this area to rob a jewelry store, that's what they did. So it happens all the time."

McNamara referred to Joseph Corr, a New Hartford Police officer who was shot and killed on Feb. 27, 2006 as he chased a jewelry store robbery suspect into a wooded area off Route 5 in the town of Kirkland.

But McNamara said there are already other options in place that could be used instead of ending the cash bail system.

"There are other things a judge can do that they don't do," he said. "One of them is they make the person sign what's called a signature bond, which means no money exchanges hands, no insurance, or bail bondsman is involved, basically the person signs a note and says 'if I don't show up then I will owe the court $500 bail.'' So basically instead of putting the money upfront they would lose the money at the end, to me that would be very powerful."

The bail proposal still needs to be voted on in the state legislature.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1973308

Reported Deaths: 51350
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings2611819909
Queens2604189526
Suffolk1913793303
Nassau1753923102
Bronx1731096365
New York1303844306
Westchester1245352236
Erie805561689
Richmond698671740
Monroe599441033
Orange45583782
Rockland45345941
Onondaga35576660
Dutchess27616433
Albany23409343
Oneida21291497
Niagara17888332
Broome17175348
Saratoga14222160
Ulster12835241
Schenectady12289192
Rensselaer10526136
Putnam1007991
Chautauqua8256132
Chemung7068133
Oswego690990
Ontario676591
Steuben6212141
St. Lawrence613794
Sullivan603268
Cayuga581090
Jefferson540863
Wayne515467
Cattaraugus506880
Genesee5014121
Herkimer4883107
Clinton447232
Madison425785
Tompkins401949
Fulton399786
Livingston394358
Montgomery3842114
Columbia380399
Cortland351560
Warren333756
Tioga333358
Wyoming321751
Allegany314183
Otsego313646
Greene308174
Chenango303173
Washington281355
Orleans271683
Lewis242333
Franklin237512
Delaware211936
Seneca185356
Schoharie152015
Essex148926
Yates109826
Schuyler97913
Hamilton3002
Unassigned184111
Out of NY0216
Rome
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 45°
Binghamton
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 45°
Rome
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 45°
Rome
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 45°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve
Enter the Rock Your Body Giveaway from Alivana Aesthetics
Looking for work or looking to hire? Check out the WKTV Job Fair!