Gov. Hochul works on public safety plan, possible bail reform changes

Posted at 11:38 PM, Mar 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 23:38:40-04

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin and Governor Kathy Hochul are working on their public safety plan. A bail reform revision is part of a reported 10-part proposal, something many republican lawmakers have been calling for.

"I would love to see the whole law scrapped and back to the drawing board with DAs, law enforcement and with advocates,” NYS Senator Rob Ortt said. “If you get everyone at the table from the start, I think you end up with a better law from the start."

The plan includes making certain gun related and hate crime offenses subject to arrest and not just desk appearance tickets.

"They [appearance tickets] have resulted in more victims, an increase in crime,” Ortt said. “You have a revolving door of criminals who are getting appearance tickets."

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn agrees that bail reform needs work.

"It’s just confusing and it needs to be revisited and it needs to get synchronize,” Flynn said. “We need to have coherent rules that are similar across the board."

Pastor James Giles from Western New York Peacemakers said the reform in 2019 was a good start. He said it prevented people from being held for minor cases, but he said it was not specific enough.

"The legislation was good,” Giles said. “The problem with the legislation was that it was too broad, and it began to remove the power from the judges."

This plan would also increase funding for mental health treatment.

"Individuals particularly around violence and criminal possession of a weapon, need to be linked to a program before released,” Giles said.

Lieutenant Governor Benjamin said public safety will be part of the budget, but it is still unclear whether bail reform is included in that.

Senator Ortt said putting this in the budget, would make it easier to pass; the budget is due April first.

If not included in the budget, Senator Ortt said they have until June to enact the changes, but it could face more opposition.