Gov. Cuomo: Changes in NY Bail Reform Law ‘Necessary’

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Photo courtesy NY Governor's Office

With the ink still wet on his signature in New York state’s historic new bail law, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is already hinting at a climbdown.

Cuomo said on Monday many aspects of the bail reform laws need to change “because ‘job one’ is to protect the public,” CBSNewYork reported

He told a press conference that changes to the state’s controversial criminal justice reform laws are “necessary” because “nobody wants to have a system where you are releasing dangerous people who committed a violent crime or are charged with committing a violent crime.”

His comments came in response to a question about Eugene Webb, a man who was arrested and released after being charged with two unprovoked attacks on women within hours of each other last week. 

Webb was released the same day from custody, even though he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest for committing a similar attack against a woman three months earlier. Within days after his release, Webb was rearrested for aggressive panhandling, according to PIX 11 News

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office sought $10,000 cash bail or a $30,000 bond in Webb’s case, “but Criminal Court Judge Ann Thompson ruled that Webb should be released on his own recognizance,” the NY Daily News reported.

At Monday’s press conference, Gov. Cuomo promised to “work [bail reform] because there are consequences we have to adjust for. There’s no doubt this is still a work in progress, and there are other changes that have to be made.”

Amendments brought to the table outline new bail reform guidelines that would let judges set bail for people charged with any level of hate crime, and add sex offenses and drug sales to the list of offenses for which bail can be set, the Wall Street Journal detailed

The discussion surrounding ongoing change will take place in Albany with lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who admitted on CBS New York’s political talk show The Point that she’s open to changes.

Stewart-Cousins reiterated that the law has been designed to prevent economic discrimination in the criminal justice system, the Wall Street Journal reports

Last weekend, former New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton called the reform bill a “disgrace” on “The Cats Roundtable” radio. 

“There’s no denying [bail] needs to be reformed but the way they did it here in New York unlike 47 of the 50 states that allow a judge to take into consideration… public safety,” Bratton told radio host John Catsimatidis, as transcribed by reporters from The Jewish Voice. 

“This isn’t reform — this is total capitulation to the criminal defense lawyers, the legal aid society, and some of our progressive legislators.”

Even President Donald Trump took to Twitter this past November to share his thoughts on the new bail reform laws: “So sad to see what is happening in New York where Governor Cuomo & Mayor DeBlasio are letting out 900 Criminals, some hardened & bad, onto the sidewalks of our rapidly declining, because of them, city. The Radical Left Dems are killing our cities. NYPD Commissioner is resigning!”

Gov. Cuomo was asked on Monday if moving forward, lawmakers should be prepared to make changes. He responded by saying, “We will do whatever’s necessary to do,” and added that he’s not sure what the change will be, but that it will be an “ongoing topic of discussion,” CBSNewYork reported.

The Wall Street Journal reports that progressive groups supporting change and amendments to bail reform laws are planning to bring at least 100 people to the Capitol for a rally on Wednesday.

See also: Some NY Lawmakers Try to Soften Bail Reform Law

Additional Reading: Houston Bail Reform Gets Mostly Praise at Hearing

Andrea Cipriano is a staff writer for The Crime Report

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