Assembly Minority Conference calls for criminal justice reforms to be immediately addressed

By on February 17, 2020
Law-enforcement professionals, local prosecutors, and members of the Assembly Minority Conference held a press conference on February 7. Provided photo

Law-enforcement professionals, local prosecutors, and members of the Assembly Minority Conference held a press conference on February 7. Provided photo

Law-enforcement professionals, local prosecutors, and members of the Assembly Minority Conference joined together to call for an immediate repeal of recently enacted criminal justice reforms. Brockport Chief of Police Mark T. Cuzzupoli and Ogden Chief of Police Christopher Mears were among the attendees at the press conference held February 7 in Rochester.

Lawmakers expressed serious 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 solutions that should have been considered in a more deliberate process.

Assemblyman Peter Lawrence (R,C,I-Greece) said the problems with the criminal justice package, which went into effect on January 1, ignore public safety and fly in the face of common-sense criminal procedures.

“Such drastic changes to the criminal justice system should not be done during budget votes in the dead of night, without the input of law enforcement and those who are directly affected. We need to repeal the cash bail changes and rewrite it as a stand-alone bill that is properly debated and voted on the floor. We need to hold hearings with community leaders, law-enforcement officials and district attorneys so we have the input we need to effectively implement change. What we have right now is essentially ‘catch and release’ of criminals and it’s putting our communities at risk every day. I am calling on the governor and state Democrats to make it right, we owe this to the people of New York,” Assemblyman Lawrence said.

“Every day that goes by without repeal is another day that New Yorkers remain at risk because of this law,” Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) said. “We must repeal this law and restore judicial discretion in pretrial criminal proceedings.” 

Hawley continued, “It is critical that individuals who pose a danger to themselves and their community can be held in custody pending their criminal trial so they do not reoffend and cause more unnecessary tragedy and damage in our communities.” 

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. They are now seeking immediate action to keep people safe.

 “The District Attorneys Association of the State of New York and I have supported innovative and reasonable criminal justice reform for years,” said Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley. “Unfortunately, the New York State Legislature did not take the views of prosecutors or law enforcement into consideration when they passed this legislation. As law enforcement, it is our responsibility to prioritize public safety. Giving judges discretion to review dangerousness as a consideration for bail, and extending the discovery timeline would promote a safer community while helping to uphold fairness for both defendants and victims in the criminal justice system.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo has expressed an openness to making adjustments. “These are complex systems. If you change one part, then you step back and you see what the effect is and you adjust accordingly,” Cuomo said.

Provided information