Westchester DA: County is ready for state’s new criminal justice reforms

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Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino spoke with News 12 Tuesday about his support for the state’s new criminal justice reforms set to go into effect on Jan. 1.

Multiple police officials have told News 12 that the new reforms can be “dangerous to the public.” Among them is the state’s new bail reform, which will allow most non-violent suspects to walk free within 12 hours of being arraigned.

Scarpino says he agrees with another contentious part of the reforms that requires authorities to hand over all evidence in cases in just 15 days.

“It adds transparency to the criminal defense ability to understand the charges that have been brought against an individual,” says Scarpino.

Scarpino's only concern, he says, is the cost of the discovery mandate, which is not being funded by the state. Westchester PBA President Michael Hagen says that could be terrifying for crime victims.

“Within 15 days, the perpetrator of the crime gets to walk through the crime scene, which may be the very house in which you were victimized,” says Hagen.

As to bail reform, the other controversial part of the new law, Scarpino says judges shouldn't hold suspected criminals just for money.

Hagen says bail reform hasn't been thought out properly.

“When you're going to be doing criminal justice reform and possibly putting some dangerous people on the street, you should be doing it in such a way that you're rolling it out without all the guesswork,” he says.

The Westchester DA says they have been preparing for the new reforms for months and have already started using a new electronic portal that allows police to upload evidence more quickly and efficiently.

RELATED STORIES: 
Officers demand 3-month moratorium on state bail reform 
Suffern PD chief: New criminal justice reforms ‘dangerous to the public’ 

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