BUFFALO – A Repeal Bail Reform Task Force established by Republicans in the state senate held the first of a series of statewide hearings Thursday in Buffalo, focusing on the impact criminal justice reforms have had on law enforcement and public safety since going into effect on Jan. 1.
The hearing featured testimony from numerous professionals from the Western New York law enforcement community. In addition to those who support a repeal, the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NYSACDL) and Chief Defenders Association of New York (CDANY) had representatives in attendance and both groups strongly oppose any action that would undermine or even eliminate any of the criminal justice reforms.
Senator George Borrello (R-Irving, 57th District), who serves as chair of the Task Force, said, “The goal of these hearings is to give those on the front lines of our law enforcement and judicial systems, the forum that they should have had last year when New York Democrats set out to revamp our bail and criminal justice policies. If they had been at the table, we wouldn’t be facing the public safety crisis we are now confronting, with dangerous individuals, many with multiple felony convictions and a history of failing to show for court appearances, being arrested and then turned back out onto the streets alongside an unsuspecting public.”
Additional Task Force hearings will be scheduled and announced shortly for Long Island, the Hudson Valley and Syracuse.
Meanwhile, Assemblyman Andrew Goodell (R-Ellicott) joined Assemblyman Joseph Giglio (R,C,I-Gowanda) and members of the Assembly Minority Conference called for the immediate repeal of criminal justice reforms.
At a press conference held in Buffalo shortly before the Senate task force meeting, lawmakers were joined by families directly impacted by the new bail reform laws and law enforcement professionals who expressed serious concerns with the new requirements.
The members also discussed their recently issued report, “Criminal Justice Reform: Addressing the Issues with Bail and Discovery Reforms,” which provides an overview of the reforms that were passed in 2019, the perceived problems with the new laws and solutions that should have been considered in a more deliberate process.