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Legislation proposed to reform bail reform

Steps are now underway to try and fix some of the problems surrounding the bail reform laws.

Posted: Jan 16, 2020 6:04 PM
Updated: Jan 16, 2020 6:12 PM

UTICA - New Yorkers across the state are expressing their concerns about the new bail reform laws. Even Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, (D) 119th District, is introducing legislation to amend the law that passed in the state budget.

"The authors of bail reform clearly felt that they were bringing forward where biases have occurred and negatively affected individuals lives within the judicial system," says Buttenschon.

One of the main components of the new bill includes giving judges the ability to consider whether the accused poses a threat.
It's an idea Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol thinks would help. 

"If we can give judges the ability to measure someone’s dangerousness to themselves, or to the victim, or to the community. That fixes a lot of problems," says Maciol.

There doesn’t appear to be enough support to repeal the bail reform law, even though there are steps in place to protect defendants from becoming victims. Buttenschon talked about the strict conduct required within the judicial system. 

"If you’re in a court system and you feel something isn’t working, there’s judicial conduct so that you can report someone, and then it’s looked at to insure that this judge was fair and equitable."

Buttenschon's second bill sets forth a number of crimes that would become eligible for bail, even though they’re now considered non-violent.

"Initially it looked like the word non-violent included those various crimes, but as we take a look at that list of crimes, there are many violent crimes in there."

Not included in the proposed legislation is changes to Discovery. District attorneys across the state have 15 days to produce all evidence against a principal or defendant, and the amount of work associated with that comes at a cost.

The biggest change can be made by 'We the People'. It’s not enough to share or talk about it on Facebook or other social media sites. The sheriff believes real change needs to be proactive.

"You’ve got to call your senators, you’ve got to call your Assembly people, you’ve got to call the governor’s office. The pressure is mounting on them to change this. I think we’re going to see change. Like I said, we would love nothing but to have nothing but repeal, but we don’t see that happening, but I think we could see significant change that would do a lot more to protect the victims of the crime and to keep our community safer."

If these changes aren’t enough, you can always make your voice heard at the polling booth.

Senators Joseph Griffo, Patty Ritchie and Betty Little are also launching petitions that call on Albany for the following:

• The restoration of bail in cases of violent crimes, sex offenses, serial criminals and those with a track record of failing to return for trial;
• Allowing judges to use their discretion to decide if a defendant poses a threat to victims, witnesses or the community they will be released into;
• Protecting witnesses and police officers from retaliation by shielding their personal information, such as names and home addresses.

To sign the petition, visit the following websites:

www.ritchie.nysenate.gov
www.griffo.nysenate.gov
www.little.nysenate.gov

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