Peoples-Stokes Defends Controversial Bail Reform Law

"Violent criminals are not being released as a result of bail reform."

Brendan Keany
January 25, 2020 - 8:10 am
Crystal Peoples-Stokes

(WBEN Photo/Brendan Keany)


BUFFALO (WBEN) - On Friday afternoon, State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes held a press conference to discuss the recently implemented Bail Reform Law in which cash bail was eliminated for violations, misdemeanors and non-violent felony offenses.

"Despite what you've read about in the media, violent criminals are not being released as a result of bail reform," she said. "This fear mongering is all it is - it's creating an opportunity to divide the electorate and creating an opportunity to divide people politically, and at the same time, it's actually harming people's lives if we go backwards on this issue."

The law has been met with much scrutiny from local legislators, town supervisors, and even the governor has called for some changes. Earlier this month, State Senator Pat Gallivan proposed a risk assessment tool for judges after seeing some of the results of early implementation.

"What we have seen now across the state is a litany of offenders being arrested, being fingerprinted, being processed and issued appearance tickets, only to go out at re-offend again," said Gallivan.

However, Peoples-Stokes argues that the bail system unfairly hurts poor people as opposed to more well-off people who can afford to post, and she questions those who don't see the unjustice of the system.

"It breaks my heart to hear some of the rhetoric that's constantly coming out about this, and it cannot be coming out because everybody who gets arrested for something non-violent should be in jail, this negative rhetoric is coming out about something else," said Peoples-Stokes. "I don't want to speak to peoples' values, but I will want to question why you think somebody should be in jail just because they've been arrested and they haven't been prosecuted."

Prominent local attorney Terry Connors says it's absurd these reforms took so long and that legislators are so quick to change them due to a few outlier cases.

"The bail system in the State of New York is broken - it resulted in more injustice than justice," he began. "It was clearly a two-tiered system; it was a system where, if you have the economic wherewithal, you could get out on the street and continue your life. If you didn't. you suffered the penalties, and those penalties far exceeded the penalties that would be imposed even if you were found guilty."

Listen to the full press conference below:

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