New York Senate Democrats Propose Some Changes To Bail Reform Law

Sophia Hall
February 12, 2020 - 1:11 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — New York State Senate Democrats said Wednesday that a plan is in the works to change the new bail reform law.

The Democrats this week told Newsday they will recommend abolishing cash bail entirely, while expanding the types of crimes for which an individuals can be held for. They will also recommend increasing judges’ authority to hold suspects.

The senators say they want suspects either in jail, released with an ankle monitor or released with a later court date.

The proposed changes come after Albany faced public backlash over the bail reform law, with many saying the elimination of cash bail led to a spike in crime throughout the state.

According to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the changes would still leave New York with the “most progressive” law in the nation regarding bail.

Meanwhile, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas says she’s relieved to hear Albany is making some changes to the law.

“I'm encouraged that they are, in fact, listening and attempting to fix the problems and move it more in the right direction,” she said.

RELATED: Nassau Police Commissioner Blames Bail Reform Law For MS-13 Witness’ Death

She says people are leaving her office because of the new reforms and believes New Jersey's bail reform law works more efficiently.

“Jersey eliminated cash bail but allowed judges the discretion and prosecutors the ability to ask for someone to be detained if they determine that a person is dangerous and was at a high-risk for flight,” Singas notes.

Weeks ago, an attorney for the New York Civil Liberties Union told WBCS 880’s Sophia Hall that judges in New York still have the discretion to set bail for suspects under the reform.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie cautioned lawmakers to be wary of making any changes to the bail reform law, which he hailed as being the solution to reforming “our deeply flawed, class-based criminal justice system.”

“This law has only been in effect for six weeks. I want to underscore what I have said before — we care deeply about victims and we want to work with law enforcement and district attorneys to ensure the safety of our communities. As with all new laws, we need to monitor its implementation,” he said in a statement. “We need to differentiate fact from fiction and not rely on sensationalism and cherry-picked stories. We must use facts and data to determine how the law is working. Finally, we must be careful not to rush to make changes that could cause more people to be incarcerated before their trial and before they have been convicted of a crime.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo previously said he’s open to making changes to the law, but has pushed back against including a “dangerous” standard.