Attorney General Letitia James expects state lawmakers to take up changes to the state's cash bail law due to "unintended consequences" with the law, she said in an interview with Spectrum News on Wednesday.
James, a Democrat, has been a proponent of the criminal justice law changes that were approved last year, including an end to cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies.
"Poverty and mental illness should not be crimes and that's what's critically important," she said. "I start from that belief and that sense of justice."
But law enforcement officials and state lawmakers from both parties have increasingly raised concerns with the legislation allowing for the release of people accused of crimes like robbery and manslaughter.
"Obviously there's some unintended consequences," James said. "I respect the legislative process. I understand the Legislature will be revisting those issues, particularly as it relates to hate crimes. I respect that process."
Lawmakers could potentially amend the measure to include judicial discretion, allowing a judge to determine if a person is too dangerous to be released from jail pending trial.
"I've spoken about dangerousness," she said. "I don't know how one can define it. I think the Legislature at this point in time, I know other individuals are looking at the best practices."
James added, "Clearly public safety should be the number one priority and I'm confident that will at the end of the day, the outcome will result in that."