The New York State Democratic state committee voted Wednesday to oppose Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sweeping reform package, instead pushing for the change to be reversed and asking the state’s courts to have more judicial control over bail.
The New York Times reports that the resolution calls on state lawmakers to not pass any legislation that ends judges’ ability to apply a defendant’s history and circumstances, and that instead lawmakers should create an independent commission that could study the issue and consider further reforms.
Cuomo’s reform package would allow judges to release more people charged with nonviolent crimes and end indigent bail subsidies, which allow judges to release eligible poor defendants with cash bonds of just $250 to $2,500, though they must still be supervised. It would also limit to 15 days the amount of time a suspect must be held while awaiting trial, plus force judges to set bail according to the severity of the crime.
Slightly less progressive New York City Democrat Christine Quinn, the former Speaker of the City Council, proposed a resolution in the state committee that called for “an end to bail practices that result in ineffective release mechanisms and unduly bail which have been demonstrated to cause racial and ethnic disparities in pretrial incarceration and incarceration” and said that the actions taken by Cuomo’s panel to address the problem were “not comprehensive and appropriate.”
Rather than legislation, Quinn was asking the state to pass a resolution that would allow the courts to set bail on their own.
“The resolution advances a vision for the development of an independent Commission that would further strengthen judicial autonomy to ensure that communities of color are no longer susceptible to dangerous and costly jailing for non-violent offenses and help bring lasting change to the way judges and courts make decisions about bail,” Quinn said in a statement.
The measure was voted down by the committee by 15-8.
During an interview with NY1 earlier this month, New York City Democratic State Senator Brad Hoylman said that Cuomo’s bail reform package was not good enough, noting that the reforms were a form of “pass-the-buck” and promised to continue working with “conscience-driven people in our community” to push for more reform.
A spokesman for Cuomo said that the governor was open to hearing the committee’s resolution and allowing New York courts to continue working on criminal justice reform.
There are currently six bills in New York State Assembly to end bail altogether, each one requiring a two-thirds majority for approval. The House votes on all bail reform bills in this session.