Assemblyman Joseph M. Giglio, R-C-I-Gowanda, and members of the Assembly minority conference called for an immediate repeal of recently enacted criminal justice reforms they said put New Yorkers at risk.
At a press conference held last week in Buffalo, lawmakers were joined by families directly impacted by the new bail reform laws and law enforcement professionals who expressed concerns with the new requirements. The members also discussed their recently issued report, “Criminal Justice Reform: Addressing the Issues with Bail and Discovery Reforms,” which provides an overview of the reforms that were passed in 2019, the perceived problems with the new laws, and proposed solutions they said should have been considered in a more deliberate process.
Giglio said state changes were made without due consideration and, as a result, the public continues to be at risk for as long as they are in place.
“We need to protect the innocent citizens of New York state,” he said. “The tragedies that have affected communities across the state need to be addressed. Effective bail reform can be a reality, but it must be done responsibly and thoughtfully, with full consideration of consequences, training for the professionals involved and resources allocated to its successful implementation.”
The reforms, which went into effect Jan. 1, were painted as a way to improve bail procedures for low-level, nonviolent offenders. The Republican leaders said that, in reality, these measures have turned into a get-out-of-jail-free card for dangerous individuals.
“ ‘Catch and release’ is great for fishing, but is a terrible criminal justice policy,” said Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-C-I-Chautauqua. “Lives are being lost and New Yorkers are losing confidence in their safety; we know what we have to do. It’s far past time to repeal this ‘catch and release’ policy.”
A press release said, “For months prior to the implementation, law enforcement professionals, judges, district attorneys and members of the Assembly minority warned state officials of the enormous challenges, unintended consequences and public safety threats. Unfortunately, those calls now are not merely warning of potential danger, they are urgently seeking immediate action needed to keep people safe.”
“Protecting victims while preserving defendants’ rights is a balancing exercise, however, the drastic criminal justice reforms, including bail reform, were drafted behind closed doors without input from experts in the field or those with any experience, without consideration for victims,” said Assemblyman Angelo Morinello, R-C-I-Ref-Niagara Falls. “What you never hear is ‘just don’t break the law’ and ‘it is time to be responsible for the consequences of your actions.’ ”
“I am deeply distressed by the Democratic legislative leaders who refuse to budge on bail reform,” said Assemblyman David DiPietro, R-C-I-East Aurora. “The pain and loss of every family and victim can be placed at their feet. Every day that goes by, every criminal that is released, is another beaten innocent, another murdered driver; we cannot allow the Democrats to destroy the law and order that protect each and every one of us. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues to call for a full repeal of these disastrous bail reforms. We know our justice system needs some work, but not at the expense of the public’s well-being!”
“New Yorkers need the downstate-driven majorities in the State Legislature and the governor to do the right thing and fix the bail laws now, before one more life is lost or one more person is injured,” said Assemblyman Mike Norris, R-I-C-Ref-Lockport. “Ensuring public safety is the top priority of our government, and it is outrageous that Albany continues to play politics with the safety of our citizens rather than taking action to correct this mistake.”