Amendments to new bail reforms get local support

Jan 7, 2020

One week into New York’s new bail laws taking effect, local politicians are calling for change. Buffalo Common Council members Joel Feroleto and Chris Scanlon are co-sponsoring a resolution saying the unintended consequences of the new laws pose a public safety risk.

Credit WBFO News

Specifically, Feroleto stressed the need for a judge’s input when considering bail.

“When you have people that are being charged with driving a vehicle,” he said. “Killing someone, never reporting the crime, leaving the scene, not having a license. I think a judge should be able to use their discretion in instances like that.”

Feroleto cited recent cases in the state involving manslaughter and hate crimes where the defendants were issued tickets and released on their own recognizance.

Feroleto said a discussion on the resolution will be held Tuesday on the council floor. He said he is hopeful the resolution will pass and their concerns will be recognized by the state legislature.

Advocates for the bail reforms contend lots of misinformation and fear-mongering has been spread, leading up to and after the reforms were instituted.

Speaking at a tele-press conference Monday, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Executive Director Norman Reimer said the end of cash bail for many misdemeanors and non-violent felonies doesn’t mean there won’t continue to be restrictions.

“They can include putting someone under the supervision of a pre-trial services agency,” he said. “They can restrict travel. They can forbid someone from having a firearm or a dangerous weapon. They can be subject to electronic monitoring. And if they are subject to supervision by a pre-trial services agency, they may be given all kinds of conditions such as curfews, home confinements. An unlimited list of conditions are out there for use now to make sure these folks who are no longer going to be held on money bail are properly managed and supported while their case is pending.”

Despite a difference in opinion on the implementation of the new laws, Feroleto and Reimer said working towards a more equitable justice system continues to be a top priority.