NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There’s controversy ahead over new criminal justice reforms.
Cash bail will be eliminated Jan. 1 for hundreds of offenses, and some defendants could be let out earlier and given rewards to get them to show up to court, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported Monday.
State judges will no longer require cash bail for most misdemeanors and non-violent felonies like selling drugs or burglarizing a home, and the state says nearly 900 city residents in jail now will be released starting mid-December.
Bail bondsman Ira Judelson said he’s already seeing fewer arrests.
“We’re going to have a major public safety issue on our hands,” he said. “It’s basically like going to school without a principal, without guidance counselors, without teachers and let students be in school and say ‘fend for yourself.'”
Republican Assemblyman Mike LiPetri said he expects around 500 inmates on Long Island to be freed.
“This is a travesty of justice,” said LiPetri. “These are criminals in our communities who have solicited sex from children. These are criminals who solicited drugs in our neighborhoods such as heroin, opioids, fentanyl.”
A law enforcement source told CBS2 a city program will offer those released incentives meant to encourage them to show up in court such as Mets baseball tickets, a subway pass or a Dunkin’ Donuts gift card.
A spokesperson for Gov. Andrew Cuomo told CBS2 he expects the reforms to be implemented appropriately, however the governor’s office doesn’t have any involvement with the city’s rewards program.
The Legal Aid Society which provides government-funded attorneys for defendants is filing motions for eligible clients immediately so they can be released as soon as possible.
“We’re talking about people who’ve been presumed innocent. We are talking about people who there’s no public safety risk or assessment or threat,” said the group’s Marie Ndiaye. “At the end of the day, it comes down to how much money does this person have in their wallet.”
Opponents like Judelson are asking the governor to take another look at the offenses covered by the legislation and reconsider before the new year.
The office of Mayor Bill de Blasio told CBS2 safety was his top priority. With regards to offering gifts to those released, substantial research shows offering defendants incentives, instead of sanctions, encourages good behavior.