Earlier this week Law Enforcement officials went to Albany in a mass protest of the new Discovery and Bail Reform laws. Hundreds of criminal suspects have been let free over the past several months because of a new ruling that Discovery must take 15 days or less, and non-violent suspects are allowed release until their court hearings. Stories are popping up in the news just about every day about these criminals committing additional robberies, assaults, and even murders. The numbers of individuals that showed up at this protest, including Police Chiefs, Sergeants, and District Attorneys attests to the common agreement among most of those “in the business”, with experience and knowledge, that the new set of criteria for “What suspects are likely to commit violent crimes” simply does not work.
We believe that the law needs to be repealed. or massively revised. Sure, parts of it can stay on the drawing board. But given the growing number of post-release violations, and the number of people needlessly injured and killed, it’s a no-brainer. Start fresh. And make sure that this time the importance of Public Safety stays at the top of the list. After all, that is what we have police officers and correctional institutes for, and it cannot be stated loudly enough the cost of incarceration to the public is no excuse for letting individuals prone to violence out on the streets. If we need more judges, find a way.
The other part of these new laws, called Discovery, is going to cripple our police departments, stuck in reams of paper and computer work instead of finding and arresting criminals, or giving tickets for minor law infractions. The cost of implementing these Discovery laws has caused municipalities to raise taxes considerably. Freeport, L.I., for instance, reportedly had to raise taxes 5.7 percent to cover the extra paperwork and computer work that resulted in taxes over the tax cap. The state is not providing funding for these extra costs, and New York is already known for the number of residents leaving because of its high taxes.
Asked why municipalities like the City of Newburgh has had to lay off so many of its police and fire department officers, one has only to look at the mountain of unfunded mandates passed on to towns and villages where residents in rural New York do not make New York City elite salaries.
There are many reasons why these Discovery and Bail reforms are wrong. The New York Association of Mayors has submitted a lengthy list of recommended changes. These officials along with the justice system personnel and judges must be included in rewriting the new set of Bail Reforms. ONE THAT CONSIDERS PUBLIC SAFETY FIRST! And please, let’s not haggle over whether a new set is a revision or consists of a repeal and rewrite. That is truly just an exercise in splitting hairs.