NY AG joins those calling for changes in new bail reform measures

Jan 6, 2020

Less than a week after new criminal justice reform laws took effect in New York State, some state officials are already asking for revisions to a law eliminating cash bail for people charged with misdemeanors and non-violent felonies. Among them is New York State Attorney General Letitia James.

Credit WXXI News

Speaking with reporters in Rochester over the weekend, after attending inauguration ceremonies for Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, James expressed some concerns regarding implementation of the new bail reform legislation.

James admitted that it has already presented some challenges.  

“There have been some individuals that have unfortunately been released under the new bail reform - and it was not unintended consequences.  It’s critically important that the legislature take into consideration that safety should be the first priority,” she said. 

James would not comment on the specific changes she would propose, but said the lack of judicial discretion is a challenge for everyone.

“I can remember Rockefeller drug laws, where we complained about the lack of judicial discretion, and so here we are now with the lack of judicial discretion, and I would hope that the legislation would go back and revisit bail reform," she said.

James also anticipates some issues with implementing the new law in how it affects the discovery process.

Under the new discovery law, prosecutors will be required to turn over discovery information within 15 days after an arraignment. The prosecution can be allowed another 30 days in some cases. 

James said law enforcement and county district attorneys would need to hire more staff in order to comply with the new requirements. She would like to see the state provide additional resources to address both bail and discovery reforms. 

The Associated Press contributed to this story.