EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork)Nassau County is getting ready to release nearly 200 inmates as part of the new bail reform law that takes effect in a few weeks.

As part of the new criminal justice reforms, people accused of misdemeanors and what are described as “non-violent felonies” will be released without bail as they await trial.

“To be left in jail if they can’t afford bail, they’re not criminals yet. You’re not a criminal until you’re convicted,” Levittown resident Pete Moran told CBS2’s Andrea Grymes.

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“I don’t consider manslaughter in the second degree, I don’t consider failing to register as a sex offender, I don’t consider selling or possessing weapons on school grounds non-violent,” Nassau County Legislator John Ferretti Jr. said.

Nassau County Correctional Center (Credit: CBS2)

Ferretti says his office has been inundated with calls from concerned citizens, especially near the jail, which is down the block from East Meadow High School.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran says they do have a plan when some 175 inmates are released starting Dec. 31.

“We are doing everything we can to keep residents safe,” Curran said.

That includes, in part, an increased police presence near the jail on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, along with increased staffing at the sheriff’s department, increased NICE bus service on Carman Avenue for inmates going home and a plan to control the parking lot for family pickups.

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Neither Curran nor police commissioner Patrick Ryder gave their opinion on the law itself, but Ryder noted the state has a 42% recidivism rate and they will be adding staff to their warrant squad.

“If you break the law, we’ll lock you up. If you continue to break the law, we’ll lock you up. We’ll keep locking you up as long as you break the law in this county,” Ryder said.

Curran says they added about $6.1 million to the budget to pay for all of this, including increased funding for probation staff and the district attorney’s office.

Ryder says it’s too soon to tell how this law will affect crime rates or quality of life in Nassau.

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