Cortland County Sheriff Mark Helms yesterday (November 25) joined law enforcement officials from across Central New York voicing opposition to the governor’s new bail reform package, set to take effect statewide on January 1.
Their collective stance was publicized at a crowded press conference at the Syracuse jail, where police chiefs, sheriffs and district attorneys from five CNY counties were in attendance.
Among their concerns is the fact that many more low-level criminals will be released before their trial in comparison with today’s laws.
“Like much of law enforcement across New York State, I’m disappointed in how the bail reform laws came to be. Clearly no one was thinking of the victims of the crimes,” Sheriff Helms said in a statement to WXHC News. “The new bail reform – while looking to put most criminals back on the streets – failed to consider how it would get these people the help they need now that jails in New York State won’t be able to help them.”
More than 400 crimes are set to require automatic releases with no bail, a decision that’ll be completely removed from local judicial systems. Additionally, evidence deadlines will be much more stringent for turning over evidence to defense lawyers.
Supporters of the reforms say they’ll make the system more fair to poorer people, who often remain jailed for extended periods of time simply because they can’t make bail.
The group said yesterday they’re not entirely opposed to reforming New York’s criminal justice laws, but that Governor Cuomo’s current proposals are too extreme and fail to provide sufficient time or financial support to be implemented.
Sheriff Helms: “Unfortunately, although this was done with good intentions, once again our Governor has implemented laws and left us (the criminal justice system) to figure out how to make it work.”
The press conference in Syracuse was one of at least eight held on the topic across the state yesterday.
Not only was it the primary agenda item for Cortland County’s Criminal Justice Proposal committee meeting, but members of Tompkins County’s Public Safety committee also approved a detailed list of recommended changes to the state.
Those will now be taken to a vote by the full legislature on December 3.