Local D.A. on bail reform in New York

As of Jan. 1, a number of criminal offenses will no longer qualify for cash bail in New York State.

Posted: Oct 4, 2019 6:26 PM

As of Jan. 1, a number of criminal offenses will no longer qualify for cash bail in New York State.

It's a part of the state's criminal justice reform.

Under the state's new bail reform policy, cash bail will not be required for most defendants accused of misdemeanors and non-violent felonies including those arrested for drug possession, or crimes like theft and burglary. Instead, judges will be obligated to set the least restrictive, non-monetary conditions for defendant.

Judges will still be able to set bail for those charged with qualifying offenses, including violent felonies, witness intimidation or tampering.

Herkimer County District Attorney, Jeffrey Carpenter, says the argument for this reform was that bail only punishes people who can't afford it. Carpenter says he disagrees with that and it puts public safety at risk.

"I think its going to have a chilling affect on victims of crimes coming forward," Carpenter said. "I think its going to lead to additional costs for district attorneys and counties to extradite people from other states people who would have been in jail pending a trial prior to this may flee the jurisdiction and I think its going to place another unmandated fund to counties."

Carpenter also says he believes the law is too broad and deters criminals from answering to their crimes.

"If we have somebody who travels through Herkimer County and they've committed petty larceny in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, and now they're in Herkimer County and they're not from here, a securing order in my opinion will keep them here to answer to their charges," Carpenter said. "The habitual theft from your local establishments, somebody that had six or eight or 10 prior convictions, its going to make it more difficult to resolve those cases if their out and on the run, think about the money county tax payer would have to spend to go get those people."

Carpenter says those who are in jail on non-qualifying offenses after Jan. 1, they can ask the court to be released or be given an alternative punishment that fits best with their offense. If they are being held on a qualifying offense, they will stay in jail.

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