Assemblywoman Amy Paulin became the latest Democrat in the state Legislature on Monday to back an alteration to the state’s newly enacted cash bail law by adding a judicial discretion component to the legislation.
Paulin, a Westchester County lawmaker, proposed the change to the law that ends cash bail requirements for misdemeanor and non-violent felony charges — a measure approved last year that has sparked an uproar among law enforcement, prosecutors and some elected officials.
“With this amendment, we have the opportunity to adjust the critical bail reforms that were enacted last year,” Paulin said. “Bail reform needed to happen in the interest of justice and equal treatment of accused individuals but we must balance those objectives against the safety and security of our residents. During this time of widespread and increased attacks against the Jewish community, we must do all we can to make all New Yorkers feel safe and protected.”
Supporters of ending cash bail contend the measure is meant to ensure poor people accused of crimes are treated the same as people who can afford to meet bail and be released pending trial.
But Republicans over the last several months have sought to press lawmakers in Albany over the issue, pointing to the release of people who have charged of manslaughter and robbery.
“Exactly what we warned against is coming true in cities and towns across the state of New York,” said New York Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy at a news conference on Monday in Albany. “I hate to start off the year to say I told you so, but we kind of find ourselves exactly where we’d though we’d be.”
Paulin’s judicial discretion proposal would allow judges to consider whether a person is too dangerous to be released. Democratic lawmakers, including Sens. Todd Kaminsky and Jim Gaughran, have also backed changes to the cash bail law.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised the changes on Monday in speech in New York City, but also opened the door to making alterations in the new legislative session. He did not go into detail.