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Dozens of inmates released from Long Island jails ahead of NY bail reform

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Posted at 9:12 PM, Dec 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-31 21:12:32-05

LONG ISLAND — Jails released dozens of inmates in Nassau and Suffolk County ahead of criminal justice reforms slated for the start of 2020.

Nassau County jails released 29 inmates on Tuesday and Suffolk County was set to release seven inmates between Tuesday and Wednesday, officials said. Both counties have released inmates over time leading up to the Jan. 1 change. The bail law eliminates pre-trial detention and money bail for people accused of misdemeanors and non-violent felonies, along with some robbery and burglary charges.

"The women and men of the Sheriff’s Department have worked diligently through this holiday season in coordination with various other agencies to ensure that the release of persons from the Correctional Center as a result of the bail reform legislation will be accomplished in a safe, controlled and organized manner," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.

Earlier in 2019, the Nassau inmate population was more than 1,000. Now it's under 900.

In Suffolk County, Sheriff Errol Toulon is putting together a team to study the impact of bail reform, a spokesman said.

Supporters of the changes say it will prevent poor people from languishing in jail for low-level crimes while their cases work through the system, but opponents believe the changes could put the public at risk.

"The public is going to be less safe as a result of the enactment of these laws," State Sen. John Flanagan (R-NY) said.

This article was written by Aliza Chasan for WPIX .