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Recent tragedy sparks criticism of bail reform in New York state

Recent tragedy sparks criticism of New York's bail reform plans
Recent tragedy sparks criticism of New York's bail reform plans
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ALBANY, N.Y. (WRGB) - Skylar Crouse was arrested in Warren County last week after authorities say he killed a bystander with his car during a police chase. Police charged him with second-degree manslaughter, a non-violent felony. He's in the Warren County Jail.

On January 1, 2020, he will be released. If that happened after that date, he would never have gone to jail in the first place. It's all part of a new law that eliminates cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies.

"I am not gonna go through another year, where we don't do criminal justice reform," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo during budget talks.

Cuomo says the new law will reduce the number of people in jail before their trial.

Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino spent 18 years as a judge, and has examined bail reform before. He says there should be more qualifying offenses for bail, including second degree burglary, criminally negligent homicide and selling drugs.

"You leave for work in the morning, we arrest em’ at 7 o’clock on a raid. You get home at 6 o'clock, by the time you get issued an appearance ticket they're back out on the street,” Giardino said.

He also says enforcing appearance tickets could fall on sheriff's offices and police departments.

"You're going to see a large spike in people not going to court in the first six to nine months of this, then you're going to see our officers spending numerous hours, numerous days tracking people who have been bench warranted,” Giardino says.

Assemblyman Dan Stec says the bill shouldn't have been passed in the budget, and says it takes away the discretion of judges prosecutors and law enforcement on crimes that would normally qualify for bail.

"Their hands are tied. Instead of being able to excursive their professional experienced discretion, It's a one size fits all now,” Stec said.

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Cuomo said in a statement that there are no plans to change these reforms, and that he doesn’t believe that a person’s freedom while awaiting trial should depend on how much money is in their bank account.

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