New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators scaled back a series of controversial changes to the state’s cash bail system that had frustrated law enforcement since taking effect this year, reports the Chronicle-Express near Rochester. Cuomo and legislative leaders reached an agreement last week, allowing judges to keep many defendants in jail awaiting trial unless they can reassure the court of their appearance by putting up cash or signing a secured bond. Last year, the legislature approved a measure that effectively ending cash bail for most misdemeanors and many felonies, requiring judges to release people charged with those crimes. The reforms were uniformly criticized by law-enforcement officials across the state.
“In less than four months after the effective date of bail reform, legislation was passed reforming the reform,” says Yates County District Attorney Todd Casella. “This simple fact is a clear indication that the state legislature did not understand or appreciate what it was doing when they hastily reformed the state’s bail system.” More than a dozen crimes have been returned to the list eligible for a cash bail order, including any crime alleged to have caused a death, burglary if someone enters the living area of a home and escape from custody. The measure also allows judges to apply cash bail for repeat arrests in some cases, including arrests for felonies committed while on probation or parole. Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike says, “This is a step in the right direction to give judges some discretion on community safety for additional serious offenses.”