FWD.us Statement on Pretrial Criminal Justice Reform Legislation in New York

NEW YORK— FWD.us New York State Director for Criminal Justice Reform Rena Karefa-Johnson issued the following statement on pretrial reforms expected to pass later today:

“Today, legislators are expected to pass a package of pretrial reforms that will eliminate money bail and mandate pretrial release for people charged with most misdemeanors and non-violent felonies in addition to reforming New York’s discovery and speedy trial practices for the better. This historic and long fought for legislation will move the Empire State towards a system that prioritizes pretrial freedom, significantly reduces the number of legally innocent people held in jail, and brings many people home to await their day in court with their families and in their communities where they belong.

“We applaud the tireless work of advocates and directly impacted people across the state that led us to this moment. We recognize that Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate President Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and their respective members worked extremely hard to make pretrial reform a priority this session and to advance the best possible compromise, all while resisting the pressure from opponents and District Attorneys to add a broad and punitive “dangerousness” standard to the bail statute. In regards to discovery specifically, New York will go from having one of the nation’s weakest bills to having one of the nation’s strongest.

“It is critical to acknowledge, however, that the bail legislation falls short of ending money bail entirely and thus will not end the criminalization of poverty across the state. We must work to ensure that the constitutional guarantee of a presumption of innocence applies to people accused of more serious crimes too.

“Today marks a significant first step towards ending senseless pretrial jailing in New York. We look forward to working with leaders in Albany to build upon this turning point and end money bail once and for all.”

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