Starting Jan. 1, the state will eliminate cash bail and pretrial detention for most low-level offenses. In the city, defendants will also receive perks – like New York Mets tickets, movie passes and gifts cards – for showing up to court.
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Newly-sworn-in Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, however, said he has his reservations about the changes on both the state and city level.
“It’s concerning. We’re going to have to work harder than ever with our partners, with our fellow district attorneys, to prosecute these crimes to make sure that we are on top of our game,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “Because, ultimately, every day when we wake up, when we work, when we go home at night, everything we think about is keeping New Yorkers safe.”
He said he’s most worried about repeat offenders.
“We’re about second chances, we’re about reform. But when you have individuals that are arrested and charged with certain crimes – and I completely respect innocent until proven guilty – but when you have individuals that are standing before a judge and immediately being released, and essentially everyone in the room knows that this person is a danger to the community, I think we need to look at the system and make sure that judges can make common sense decisions,” he said. “Having dangerousness is at the crux, in my opinion, of what we would like to see changed with some of these laws.”
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Shea’s predecessor, James O’Neill, previously expressed “real concerns” about the reforms, as well.
“We have to make sure there are consequences for criminal behavior,” he said.
Before the new laws take effect, nearly 900 residents could be released from city jails starting mid-December.