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Oneida County Sheriff: Bail reform shrinking jail population

The Oneida County Jail inmate population is shrinking.

Posted: Dec 3, 2019 6:12 PM
Updated: Dec 3, 2019 6:25 PM

The Oneida County Jail inmate population is shrinking.

"It was a big enough spike where it caught the attention of some of our jail staff," said Sheriff Maciol. "On the minor offenses, we're seeing the inmates going back to court on a return court date and instead of them returning here, they're being RORed from the court," said Maciol, referring to several inmates being released on their own recognizance.

Maciol can only attribute the dwindling population to one thing.

"Obviously this has got to be attributed to bail reform because typically that doesn't happen like it did last week," said the sheriff.

Sheriff Maciol and others in law enforcement statewide have made their concerns for the public safety regarding bail reform heard loud and clear. But Maciol's concern extends to the inmates who might be abruptly released, as well.

"We want to be sure there is something for them to transition to in the community," says Maciol. "So that we're not setting them up for failure, so they're not just being released into the community with no plan in place."

"I just think it's fear mongering," says defense attorney, John Leonard.

Leonard practices in six counties and believes that the idea that bail reform compromises public safety is unwarranted.

"So if you and I were both arrested for aggravated unlicensed operation, we pay a traffic ticket and we were both set $500 bail. Now I live paycheck to paycheck and I can't afford $500 bail but you post. So that makes me or you a worse offender or more danger to the community?" asks Leonard. "Just because bail is set on one and you post, it doesn't make you any more of an offender or any more of a risk to society."

Sheriff Maciol has not yet begun to release inmates whose offenses will no longer require that bail be set. He's researching cases where, even though bail reform says an inmate should go, a prior offense might suggest that they should stay.

"If they're brought in here on a charge for which they can't be held, can they still be held as a violator of their parole? I don't know the answer to that," says Maciol.

Bail reform officially takes effect January 1st.

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