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.

RELATED STORY: Manslaughter, Arson, Hate Crimes — See All The Crimes Suspects In New York Now Get Released For Under Bail Reform

On CBSN New York’s political talk show “The Point,” CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer asked Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins if she would consider some kind of change.

“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.

RELATED STORY: Rockland County Fatal Hit-And-Run Suspect Released Under New State Bail Reform Guidelines

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.

Comments (7)
  1. Brian Van says:

    People who commit hate crimes need to be convicted at trial and need to face stiff sentencing.

    Holding someone who shoplifted aspirin for 3 years in Rikers is not addressing that in the least, and that is the thing that was “reformed” because the district attorneys were asking for that left-and-right.

    Attempted murder or violent felonies can still trigger bail and/or remand. So if you see district attorneys charging people with soft misdemeanors for violent crimes, maybe you should ask the district attorneys and not the head of the State Senate.

    And if you’re going on about this for some kid who spray-painted a slur word somewhere… yeah, that’s not a felony, nobody is in mortal danger, stop wasting our time.

  2. Benjamin Kaufman says:

    The purpose of bail is to make sure people return to court, not punish the poorer ones who cannot afford to pay it. If someone is deemed a danger to the community they should be held, period; setting ridiculously high bail is not the right way to do this.

  3. Connie Ainslie Bresee says:

    I hope that everyone who voted for this law becomes a victim of this law. I also hope that all who voted for this law is voted OUT of office!

  4. Joe Harrington says:

    As usual these bought and paid for part-time legislators pass a bill only about ten percent them read and no good for law-abiding people in in they want to go back read it!

  5. BK says:

    this doesn’t make sense as a public safety argument. bail isn’t punitive. if the offenders are unlikely to reoffend pretrial and they intend to return to court, they would be granted bail. so they would still be free, they just would have had to post partially refundable money in order to be free. net result is that they would still be released pretrial. holding up a sensational case so example for why a criminal legal policy needs review––when the case is not even remotely representative of that vast majority of people who are being held pretrial––is pretty silly.

  6. Stan Zalen says:

    Todd, you should have thought of this when you voted as a typical soft on crime Democrat instead of as a former ADA.

  7. Tim Liebrand says:

    Maybe they should have worked with law enforcement and DA’s before instead of just the Public Defenders and Criminal Attorney’s

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