Some leaders in this state want to reform bail reform

Criminal Justice

gavel and money for bail

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Some political leaders in New York are calling for changes to a new law that bars cash bail requirements for many nonviolent criminal defendants.

Among those who would like to change the law are New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the New York Times reports. Both have supported provisions that would allow judges to consider whether defendants pose a risk to public safety before allowing release.

De Blasio cautions, however, that any change to the law should precisely define dangerousness, so that the exception would not be overused.

The New York law allows release without cash bail for a long list of nonviolent crimes, including stalking, several drug offenses, some kinds of arson, burglary and robbery. It took effect Jan. 1.

Public safety concerns have been stoked by media coverage of cases like that of Tiffany Harris of Brooklyn, who was accused of slapping three Orthodox Jewish women and released without cash bail. She was accused of assaulting another woman a day after her release.

But some people are warning about being too quick to change the law. Among them are state Sen. Michael Gianaris, a Democrat.

“For every story that ends up in the press that is concerning,” he told the New York Times, “there are dozens of people who have been accused of very low-level crimes that are now home with their families.”

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