A spokesman for the governor says there is no plan to delay or put off the changes set to take effect Jan. 1
Sheriffs, police chiefs and district attorneys across the state are making a last-ditch appeal to Governor Andrew Cuomo. They’re trying to convince him to delay the implementation of sweeping criminal justice reforms set to take effect in New York on Jan. 1.
The state legislature passed the reforms in April as part of the state budget and if any changes are to be made before they go into effect, the governor would likely have to call lawmakers back into a special session before the end of the year.
“Judges will no longer have judicial discretion to set bail on over 400 alleged crimes. Burglary in the second (degree), robbery in the second, criminal sale of a controlled substance, the sale in or near a school and the sale to a child,” Wayne County Sheriff Barry Virts said at a press conference on Thursday while expressing his concerns about the implications the changes could have on public safety.
One by one, dozens of law enforcers from across Monroe County and the Finger Lakes Region also expressed their concerns with the bail and discovery reforms coming to New York.
“Let's not be the state where others are talking about how New York got it wrong,” Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary said.
He added his biggest concern is protecting crime victims.
But the last-minute push for a delay is very last minute.
"We're really hoping that the Governor will convene the legislature just to put a delay on it, that's all. We're not asking for them to say we're not doing it, we're asking for a delay so that we can be part of the conversation to assist in modifying it," Monroe County Undersheriff Korey Brown said.
Assemblyman Mark Johns, a Republican from Perinton, said he’d be willing to go back to Albany for a special session before the end of the year.
“Call us back and let's do some chapter amendments as they call it in Albany and fix this bill,’ he told News 10NBC.
A number of groups that support the criminal justice reforms called the law enforcement press conferences, which happened simultaneously across the state, “fear-mongering.”
In a statement, the New York Civil Liberties Union said: "Today's efforts to derail much-needed changes to our criminal legal system is a sad attempt to disrupt a pathway to justice. To suggest that we should maintain the status quo and continue to criminalize and warehouse people due to the size of their bank account is not a form of justice, and we must not heed to the handful of people who insist that it is.”
In a statement on Thursday, Jason Conwall, a spokesman for the governor, indicated Cuomo has no intention of slowing down or delaying the reforms:
“Republican Governor Chris Christie passed essentially the same bail reform laws years ago in New Jersey and their state reports have shown that overall crime has decreased with no statistically significant changes regarding re-offenses or court appearances," Conwall stated. "We carefully considered the views of law enforcement to ensure we enacted balanced reforms that were long overdue and will bring greater fairness to New York’s criminal justice system”
As far as how these changes are going to be paid for, which has been another concern of local law enforcers and the state Attorney General, the Governor’s budget office tells News 10NBC: “New York State is creating a more equitable justice system as we eliminate cash bail for minor offenses, speed the time to trial, transform the discovery process, raise the age of criminal responsibility, decriminalize marijuana, and invest in indigent defense. There is no question resources are available for the implementation of these critical reforms as the State invests more than $300 million to support them and local governments will recognize hundreds of millions of dollars in annual savings from a declining inmate population.”