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De Blasio calls for change to new bail reform law

NY political battle intensifies over sweeping bail changes
Posted at 3:44 PM, Jan 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-02 19:01:46-05

NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio called out the new bail reform laws Thursday, one day after they were implemented.

Pre-trial detention and money bail were eliminated for most people accused of misdemeanors and non-violent felonies, along with some robbery and burglary charges, under the new law, which was pushed for by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The law was passed to prevent poor people unable to post bail from languishing in jail for long periods of time.

"There is a chance now for the legislature to get it right," de Blasio said.

Specifically, he wants judges to have discretion as they do in New Jersey, where bail reform laws were overhauled in 2017.

"They did some very good reforms, but there's also things that need to be done, particularly empowering judges to determine if someone poses a threat to the surrounding community and giving judges the power to act on that," de Blasio said.

His comments echoed those made by NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Ben Tucker.

"Certain individuals continue to pose a risk to society and need to remain in jail," he tweeted. "Not allowing judges discretion poses a danger for our neighborhoods."

But Brooklyn Defender Services Executive Director Lisa Schreibersdorf disagreed and called the reforms "a giant leap forward."

"The Mayor should build on these bold changes by assuring resources are available for people who have mental illness, substance use disorder, or other challenges," Schreibersdorf said. "Changing the law to require judges to make supposed predictions of future dangerousness, a position already rejected by Albany lawmakers as likely to exacerbate racism in our criminal legal system, would not accomplish anything to improve safety or combat hate in our society."