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Questions over bail reform and the opioid crisis

Posted at 6:28 PM, Feb 19, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Avi Israel has worked tirelessly to fight the opioid crisis and help those addicted to drugs seek and find help, since his son Michael died as a result of addiction in 2011.

“I definitely worry that people who need help are not going to get help,” he said.

Now, a month in to New York’s new bail reform, Israel worries the reform could hurt all of the great work that’s been done to help addicts seek treatment.

“Someone who is addicted to drugs, and commits a crime…how do we reach that person?”

He’s worried what, if any implications bail reform may have for those who are addicted, who may find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Under New York’s bail reform, for non-violent crimes like drugs, offenders are released from custody without having to pay a cash bail.

“If you show up at a store and try to rob a store because you are addicted to drugs and you get an appearance ticket….I think that’s wrong,” Israel said.

Israel says in some cases, addicts need to be forced to get help even if that means incarceration.

One of the things Israel says he’d like to see happen to the bail reform law is to give the judge’s more discretion of who receives bail and who doesn’t.

7 Eyewitness News called the Buffalo Opioid Intervention Court, and they say drug treatment is still a condition of a defendant’s release and is not impacted by the elimination of cash bail.

Opioid addiction isn’t the only concern being raised about bail reform.

A new report by Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw examined the fiscal impact of bail reform in Erie County.

According to his report, Amherst reported in one week 24-48 defendants (50%) who were supposed to report to court never showed up.

“Police have a hard enough job—now they have to deal with defendants who are not showing up to court,” said Mychajliw.