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Gov. Cuomo admits bail reform law needs to be amended

Posted at 6:52 AM, Jan 07, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo seems to be changing his stance on the state's bail reform law, that he pushed for.

While he was talking to a special interest group, the governor conceded that changes have to be made to the law which took effect days ago.

The law would eliminate cash bail for those charged with misdemeanors and non-violent crimes, and suspects go free until their court appearance.

"Changing the system, which we started to do, is complicated and then has a number of ramifications," Gov. Cuomo said. "There's no doubt this is still a work in progress and there are other changes that have to be made. Again, it's literally three or four days, the legislature comes back next year and we're going to work on it because there are consequences that we have to adjust for."

Gov. Cuomo's words come as more and more elected officials express concerns with the new law.

The Buffalo Common Council voted to pass a resolution urging Albany to change the law.

"We are 100% behind criminal justice reform, it just needed a little fine tuning," said Council Member Christopher Scanlon (D-South District).

At least two Democrats say they want to see at least two changes, saying they want a judge to have the ability to set bail if someone dies as a result of a crime, and for hate crimes.

This follows complaints from people all over Western New York.

"I think there's a large segment of the population out there that are upset with it," said Council Member Scanlon.

"When people see news stories about people driving without a drivers license, striking someone and killing them and that person walking the next day without even the possibility of bail is very concerning to a lot of people," Council Member Joel Feroleto (D-Delaware District) said.

There are also concerns about the law's effect hate crimes, especially with recent anti-Semitic attacks.

Rabbi and Activist downstate Rachel Timoner says the attacks have nothing to do with bail reform and the law is fine as is.

"I'm hoping we're all going to rise up and defend bail reform, which is an essential step forward for our state, but it is threatened right now," said Rabbi Timoner.

There is no time table for when the issue will be taken up again in Albany.