NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Under intense pressure to reform the state’s new bail reform law, state Senate Democrats propose a fix, but there is one man in Albany who is still not buying in.
Facing a lightning storm of protest, a cyclone of criticism raining down upon them over the new bail reform law, Senate Democrats are trying to part the clouds of controversy with a proposal to overhaul the law that just went into effect Jan. 1.
“This is mission critical,” Sen. Todd Kaminsky said.
Kaminsky was talking about an overhaul plan developed by his chamber to address a litany of concerns expressed by everyone from Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez — one of the most liberal prosecutors in the state, and even Mayor Bill de Blasio.
It calls for elimination of all cash bail, but suspects can be held for hate crimes, felony domestic violence charges, and there will be judicial discretion in which flight risk and criminal records can be factored in to determine if someone can be held.
There will also be more time for prosecutors to hand over evidence to the defense.
Kaminsky, a former prosecutor said he thought lawmakers should also address a CBS2 report that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance is considering the drastic step of deferring cases or declining to prosecute because his office lacks the manpower to turn over detailed case records to defense attorneys within 15 days.
“We want to give our prosecutors the ability to make effective cases,” Kaminsky said. “Of course, when I hear the news, that’s troubling.”
One problem with the overhaul is that Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has not been hasty to embrace the need for a fix.
“I can’t say what we will do, won’t do, look at, won’t look at until I know how the law is working. I have to grade the exam before I can determine where we have to look,” he said.
Heastie downplayed reports he was furious that Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins blindsided him by making the overhaul public.
“There’s gonna be days when the governor’s gonna disagree with me. There’s gonna be days when Andrea disagrees with me,” he said. “We have to continue to do our jobs.”
“In Albany, everything’s a heavy lift until it’s lifted. It’s a tough place. That being said, I think we’re willing to work with anyone,” Kaminsky said.
The Legal Aid Society and a group of public defenders criticized the Senate proposal, saying it put “politics over people.” The groups said that, if enacted, it would dramatically increase the number of people languishing in jails who are presumed innocent.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo appeared to support the Senate plan, saying he proposed the same thing last year.