NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There is a stunning demand for changes to the state’s controversial bail reform laws from one of the most liberal district attorneys in New York.
It comes as Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez copes with a spike in shootings, even as he arrests dozens of gang members involved in gun cases.
It’s an alarming video showing picture after picture of members of two rival Brownsville, Brooklyn, gangs shooting at each other.
Gonzalez says he’s not worried about any of the defendants — 34 gang members indicted on various gun-related charges — being released without bail.
“In this case, the overwhelming majority of the defendants in this case were either remanded or bail was set on them,” he said.
But he is worried about others who have been released without bail under the state’s controversial new bail reform laws, and he’s calling on Albany to make changes.
“The system really needs to move to a cashless bail system,” he said.
“So you’re saying that nobody should have to pay to put up cash bail?” CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer asked.
“Correct. We should move to the Jersey model,” Gonzalez said.
New Jersey virtually eliminated cash bail. Criminal defendants are evaluated based on the risk they pose to the public. Low-risk defendants are often released with some supervision while high-risk defendants are held.
Gonzalez also wants Albany to consider other changes, saying he supports more judicial discretion.
“Because we have to trust our judges to be able to do their jobs. We trust judges to make decisions all the time. We have to have judges involved,” he said.
Gonzalez, one of the most liberal prosecutors in the entire state, is also facing an uptick in crime in his borough.
Brooklyn leads the city in shooting victims so far this year with 27 people shot since New Year’s Day, compared to 19 last year. Additionally, according to the NYPD, shootings are up nearly 41%.
“Giving judges discretion to make decisions is an important step, and without that, we’ve handicapped our judiciary,” Gonzalez said.
If there is change in Albany, it will have to be agreed to by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who so far has been reluctant to come to the table.
A spokesman for the speaker did not return calls seeking comment.