Two Buffalo Common Councilmen urge NYS to revisit cash bail

Reforms have had unintended consequences since taking effect Jan. 1

Mike Baggerman
January 06, 2020 - 1:56 pm

WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Two Buffalo Common Council members are asking lawmakers in Albany to revisit the cash bail reforms that took effect at the start of the year.

South District Councilman Chris Scanlon and Delaware District Councilman Joel Feroleto introduced a resolution that may be voted on as early as Tuesday which asks the New York State Legislature to immediately consider making changes to the criminal justice reform laws. The specific target is cash bail laws, which prevents a judge from placing bail on a person accused of crime if they are accused of misdemeanors or non-violent felonies. However, some crimes, such as drug felonies, burglaries, and some crimes related to domestic violence are loopholes in the reform.  

"(We need) a common sense approach to make sure the general public and, more specifically, victims of crimes, are not inadvertently impacted," Scanlon said.

Police agencies in the area have voiced their concerns about the laws for several month. New York State Attorney General Letitia James also said last week she hopes the legislature will revisit the issue this year. Even Governor Cuomo on Monday said that there are changes that need to be made.

"They are back to Albany later this week, so we're hoping they get on top of this immediately," Feroleto said.

Feroleto cited several cases where somebody has died and the person who killed them were released without bail. He brought up a New York City incident of a man allegedly killing a pedestrian while driving drunk, an Albany man accused of manslaughter after he strangled and stabbed a woman, and hate crimes in New York City.

Other incidents of someone released without bail include a hit-and-run in Rockland County by someone in the country illegally.

"I think they really need to take a look at the list of crimes and make some amendments to them very soon," Feroleto said.

Feroleto and Scanlon both believe a judge should have discretion to set bail in certain scenarios.

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