NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In a stunning development, the powerful head of the New York State Senate tells CBS2 she’s ready to consider changes to the state’s controversial new criminal justice reform laws.
With the rise of hate crimes, she’s not the only one.
In the three days since New York’s criminal justice reform law took effect, people charged with committing anti-Semitic hate crimes have made headlines because, under the law, judges freed them without bail.
“I think we need to take a look,” Stewart-Cousins said. “We want to take a look at reforming the system but making sure we do it right. We’re as concerned about these hate crimes as everyone.”
She went on to say they would “absolutely” look and “make appropriate changes as necessary.”
Stewart-Cousins was asked about whether the law needs to be changed to include a public safety carve-out — judges allowed to set bail in cases where the defendant could pose a threat to the community.
New Jersey, California and Illinois already include the carve-out.
Stewart-Cousins isn’t the only one admitting things need to change, that the law needs to be amended.
Long Island Sen. Todd Kaminsky also says changes are needed.
“There’s no doubt. We can’t sit here and say we want a zero tolerance policy against hate crime and say it’s time to get serious about it and our laws not reflect that,” he said.
“It’s very good news,” CBS2’s urban affairs expert Mark Peters said. “Without the safety valve of allowing judges to assess dangerousness, we’re putting people out on the street who are in fact a danger to the public.”
The Senate Majority Leader said lawmakers will work with advocates, law enforcement, DAs and others to consider options for making the law better.