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Bail reform compromise offered by Senate Democrats

Posted at 12:49 PM, Feb 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-12 17:33:17-05

The New York State bail system is about to change again, according to Senate Democrats.

“We are getting rid of cash bail completely," Senate Maojrity Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins told 7 Eyewitness News. "Simply put, the reforms will ensure that no one will be incarcerated simply because of their inability to pay and that no one will be let out of prison because of their enormous wealth," she added.

Since January 1st, defendants of misdemeanors and most felonies are released from custody without having a cash bail attached to their conditions for release. It's intended to lower the number of people sitting in jail awaiting trial because they cannot afford bail.

However, many members of law enforcement and republicans alike continue to feel many dangerous criminals are being released.

Stewart-Cousins also said it would once again give judges discretion to put a suspect behind bars while they await trial, but on an extremely limited basis. "We would give judges some discretion but with extremely strict guidelines and guardrails and almost all misdemeanors and non-violent felonies would not be eligible for remand," she said.

The decision to make changes to the current bail system came after meeting with numerous stakeholders from across the state, including District Attorneys, Public Defenders, advocates, the Sheriffs’ Association, the NYPD, and other groups, according to the Senate Majority press office.

Stewart-Cousins said it would still represent the most progressive justice reforms and justice system in the nation.

Senate democrats plan to give judges guidelines and guardrails on possible remand. All of the charges that aren’t eligible for cash bail would not be eligible for remand. With the exception of crimes that result in the death of another person, certain domestic violence felonies and certain hate crimes. Nearly all misdemeanors will not be eligible for judicial discretion, meaning New Yorkers accused of these crimes will not be incarcerated. The Senate Majority said the proposal would also address persistent offenders and provide possible remand.

The Senate Majority said it will continue to monitor the justice reforms, and continue to improve the system to ensure New Yorkers’ rights are protected and our communities are kept safe.