NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In his strongest statements to date, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday changes to the state’s controversial criminal justice reform laws are necessary because “job one” is to protect the public.
It’s Albany’s stickiest wicket: Whether to amend the state’s new bail laws that were intended to prevent people who simply lack the money to post bail from languishing in jail awaiting trial.
“What’s you personal feeling about the need for a criminal justice carve-out, a public safety carve-out like the bills in New Jersey, Illinois and California?” Kramer asked Cuomo.
“Nobody wants to have a system where you are releasing dangerous people who committed a violent crime or are charged with committing a violent crime,” he said.
The comments came after Kramer asked Cuomo about 26-year-old Eugene Webb, arrested and released after being charged with two unprovoked attacks on women within hours of each other last week. Webb was released despite an outstanding warrant for his arrest for a similar attack three months earlier.
“I got pushed from the side and then attacked again, and I was punched in the head,” one of the women allegedly attacked by Webb said. He allegedly hit her so hard she lost a tooth and loosened others.
Hours after his release, Webb was arrested again, this time for aggressive panhandling.
Cuomo said he didn’t know the particulars of the Webb case, but admitted there have been many complaints since the law took effect on Jan. 1.
“That case aside, there are many people who are pointing out issues in the system. I get it. That’s an ongoing topic of discussion,” Cuomo said.
That discussion will take place with Albany lawmakers. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins said on CBSN New York’s political talk show The Point that she’s open to changes. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has said he’s not.
Kramer asked Cuomo: Should lawmakers change the law?
“We will do whatever’s necessary to do,” Cuomo said.
“Is something necessary?” Kramer asked.
“I think something is necessary. The question is what,” Cuomo said.
It’s an issue with all kinds of political implications. Progressives say that no changes are needed. But it’s also an election year, and there are a number of lawmakers in vulnerable seats who say changes need to be made as quickly as possible.