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Unintended repercussions of bail reform in the City of Tonawanda

Man doesn't appear in court, commits more crime
Posted at 5:57 PM, Jan 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-15 17:57:27-05

CITY OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York State Assembly Republicans called for the full repeal of the Criminal Justice Reforms based on the consequences of the new rule. One of those effects was seen in the City of Tonawanda when a judge took to Facebook to share his frustration with the new state bail reform laws.

Thomas Crossfield stood before Judge Mark Saltarelli charged with two counts of petit larceny for stealing two Cricket cell phones. District Attorney John Flynn said Crossfield has a lengthy criminal record with arrests from cities across Western New York.

"Judges under the new law basically their discretion is taken away," said Erie County District Attorney John Flynn.

Yet he was still able to walk free under the new rules, and then he never showed up for his next court date.

"Things that we arrest people for and hold them on bail for... to just tissue them an appearance ticket and have them walk out the door... it's a little different now," said Captain Fredric Foels with the City of Tonawanda Police.

Shortly after walking out of the City of Tonawanda court Judge Saltarelli said Crossfield committed another crime, robbing a convenience store.

"When you have individuals who have been charged with a crime go back out and commit a second crime or third crime, that tells you that that individual has a disregard for the criminal justice system in general," Flynn said.

Captain Foels and DA Flynn said they hope their opinions are heard in Albany when the laws are re-examined.

"Maybe give law enforcement a seat at the table. And let us talk about different things that we feel maybe bail is required for," said Captain Foels.

"Two branches of goverment have pretty much taken away one of the main powers, one of the main duties of a co-equal third branch of government," said DA Flynn.

Even Governor Cuomo, who championed the changes, admitted the law has to be tweaked.

Governor Cuomo said in the State of the State address, "The bail laws just went into effect a couple of days ago. Bail reform is right. You have a criminal justice system that basically says now you get arrested, if you can make bail you're released, if you can't make bail you sit in Rikers for two years and get abused until you have your day in court. And meanwhile you've been in Rikers and for two years and you haven't been found guilty of anything. And bail is predicated on wealth. So if you have access to wealth, you make bail, if you don't have access to wealth, you don't make bail. That's not justice. Justice was never supposed to be who has money in their pockets gets out. But changing the system, which we started to do, is complicated and then has a number of ramifications. 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."

He also supports adding hate crimes to the list of bailable offenses.