Stefanik seeks study of pre-trial bail release

Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

WASHINGTON — Joining the chorus of lawmakers and law-enforcement officials voicing concerns over the new bail reform laws in New York, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-21, took initiative in Washington, D.C., to study the results of pre-trial release.

Stefanik announced Monday she was co-sponsoring legislation called Bill’s Promise Act, which would have the Government Accountability Office study how people released from jail pre-trial are supervised.

“I am proud to co-sponsor this bill to address dangerous bail-reform policies that continue to put our communities at risk,” Stefanik said in a statement. “This legislation will require an assessment of failed bail reform laws exactly like the one that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has implemented in New York, which has had significant impacts in the north country and put many communities at risk.”

Stefanik’s bill, she said, was drafted in collaboration with law enforcement and members of anti-violence advocacy groups.

The new law, which was enacted at the start of the year, allows individuals charged with most misdemeanors and non-violent felonies to be released from custody without bail. Proponents of the law, including most Democratic legislators, have said bail reform is an essential step to level the playing field for lower-income communities and communities of color, saying it is unfair to criminalize poverty.

Republican lawmakers, however, have sounded public safety alarms over the new laws, and kicked off the first week of legislative session with an amendment that would repeal the historic criminal justice reforms passed last year, including bail reform. Even some Democratic legislators have proposed amendments to the law, or at least expressed openness to exploring tweaks. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who proposed the legislation in his 2019 agenda, called the reforms a “work in progress” in a speech last week, and said there were “consequences that we have to adjust for.”

During his opening address, newly elected Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, R-120, urged his fellow legislators to take another look at the laws, saying he’s “not trying to grind the political ax” but rather protect public safety and listen to local law-enforcement officials, judges and district attorneys that have expressed concerns about repercussions of the new laws.

While some Democratic legislators have proposed their own amendments to the law, including inviting back in judicial discretion for certain crimes, most are standing firm.

One of those is Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-83, who said the reforms were about making sure defendants get treated equally, and urged people to have more patience and let the law take effect.

“Judicial discretion invites back in bias,” he recently told reporters. “When two people who are charged with the same crime end up with different bails, that gives me pause on judicial discretion. Right now the way the law is written, it is based on the crime you are accused of, whether you should be released.”

Massarah Mikati covers the New York State Legislature and immigration for Johnson Newspaper Corp. Email her at mmikati@columbiagreenemedia.com, or find her on Twitter @massarahmikati.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(5) comments

progressivextian

Is the rich person who commits the same crime as the poor person less dangerous because he can afford bail? We do love to punish the poor in this country.

Airball55

Good lord...read the first two comments. Pathetic. I for one am in for corrections reform. But it has to be thought out. This obviously was not. Similar to ObamaCare, we were in such a rush to gain political points that a law was passed that directly affects the safety of those the laws are supposed to protect. Put aside the hate for Stefanik or Trump, the law is disastrous. If NY wasn't such a corrupt dependent state (dependent on the state, voter scheme for Cuomo) could you imagine the blow back on this? Trump has nothing to do with this FYI. The Fuhrer himself, the Czar, Mr. Cuomo should fall on the sword on this but this state is so screwed up he can admit his mistake and laugh all the way to Puerto Rico. Shame, shame, shame.

MD

Stefanik, intelectual midget, already has the results of her study. Since she is looking into "dangerous laws putting ....communities at risk", she will only find dangerous laws putting communities at risk. Taking an example from recent history, there is no reason to jail a black kid for stealing a knapsack, for three and a half years pending trial. Well, there is a reason, but its not a good reason, and we are trying to avoid that.

Nice_Commenter

Considering the number of Trump associates that have been convicted or plead to felonies I think it inappropriate for her to be involved in criminal justice reform. Trump is going to NYS prison for tax fraud after he leaves office, for example. Stefanik is too close to the criminal elements in the White House to treat this issue fairly.

Holmes

"Heastie, D-83, who said the reforms were about making sure defendants get treated equally, and urged people to have more patience and let the law take effect" take effect, how many people must die because of this? At least one has already been killed and several of these "defendants" have committed more crimes after being released. The whole thing is ludicrous, pure insanity.. In the words of Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, "there does appear to have been a glitch or two"....

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