Bail reform holds up $216 billion state budget, faces 4 p.m. deadline today
Bail reform remains a sticking point for state budget as a second deadline approaches at 4 p.m. today.
State lawmakers missed the April 1 deadline to reach an agreement on the new budget. They extended the deadline to Monday.
Gov. Kathy Hochul recently proposed new adjustments to bail reform as part of this year's state budget, but the state Legislature would have to approve the measure.
Calls for changes to bail reform have grown as crime has risen, but supporters maintain the laws level the playing field between defendants who have the money to make bail and those who don't. "I definitely agree that there needs to be more equity in the justice system. But at the same time, we also have to worry about what it could do potentially to others around us," says Kathryn Kaufman, of Yorktown.
Some of the key elements to Hochul's plan include making more criminal offenses eligible for bail and allowing judges to consider a defendant's criminal history and whether a defendant poses a danger to public safety. "The judge should be able to say what's right, what's wrong. It's up to them. It's their court," says Ed O’Donnell, of Yonkers.
Those ideas have met resistance in both the Senate and Assembly. Republicans say the amendments don't go far enough, while Democrats reject the proposal's dangerousness provision. Many who spoke with News 12 say that each case needs to be looked at separately. "If it's a minor crime or if it's someone who does not have the money, they should review it to see if they can do something about those crimes. But if it's a higher crime, they need to stay in jail," says Raquel Campbell, of the Bronx. "I think we just need to focus on the dangers of the crimes that are being committed and what the possibility could be for letting people go," says Kaufman.
Lisa Tyson, with the Progressive Coalition, says they should leave the bail reform as it is because it is working.
“Studies show its been very successful and the budget should go through at this point with no changes whatsoever,” says Tyson.
If a budget does not get approved by Monday’s 4 p.m. deadline, more than 60,000 state workers could see their paychecks disrupted.