NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has become the latest politician to jump off the no-cash bail bandwagon.
A massive march against hate, the terrifying rise of anti-Semitic attacks, and the specter of the perpetrators of the attacks released without bail to strike again are all factors apparently forcing Cuomo to open the door to reforming the state’s new criminal justice reform laws.
“We’re going too work on it because there are consequences we have to adjust for,” Cuomo said.
The governor told a group of the city’s movers and shakers at the Association for a Better New York that he will work with the Legislature to revamp the law.
Many in the audience Monday were concerned about the fact that right now judges lack discretion to set bail for someone deemed to be threat to the community, the so-called public safety carve out is included in the no-cash bail laws in other states like New Jersey and California.
Take, for example, the case of Tiffany Harris, a 35-year-old in Brooklyn who allegedly attacked three Jewish women in Crown Heights, went to jail and then was released, only to allegedly assault another woman in Prospect Heights the very next day.
“There’s no doubt this is still a work in progress, and there are other changes that have to be made,” Cuomo said.
But while the governor was talking change, Queens Sen. Michael Gianaris was defending the law, pointing out that defendants who have money and can pay bail have always been able to get out of jail right away. He pointed to Harvey Weinstein as a perfect example.
“He’s been accused of horrible, horrible things, and yet all the people who are clamoring and complaining about bail reform I have not heard a peep from them about how an accused rapist has been sitting in the community while waiting for his trial,” Gianaris said.
And while calling for change, the governor defended the intent of the reforms, that people shouldn’t be held in jail simply because they lack the money to post bail.
“Justice was never supposed to be who has money in their pocket and who doesn’t,” Cuomo said.
It’s unclear just how soon the Legislature will make changes. A number of lawmakers have already introduced bills, but they’ll have their hands full when the session starts later this week.
The top order of business will be to find some way to close the state’s burgeoning budget deficit — $6 billion and counting.