Republicans in the state Senate and Assembly on Tuesday called for the passage of measures designed to tighten up the process for parole, as well as to undo changes to bail laws made in the last several years.
The packages of bills were unveiled by Republicans as Democrats in the next two weeks are considering bills to make parole easier for incarcerated people, as well as a range of further reforms to the criminal justice system.
The measures proposed on Tuesday represent a clear clash of approaches to the criminal justice system by the two major parties in New York. For years, Republicans in New York have argued, often successfully, for the need to approve new anti-crime measures designed to bolster police and punish suspects and the convicted.
But under full Democratic control of the Legislature, lawmakers have started to unwind decades of criminal justice policy as prisons have closed and fewer people are incarcerated in the state. The laws approved in recent years have contended with virtually every aspect of the criminal justice system, from arrest, to trial and incarceration.
Republicans are proposing the measures, too, amid renewed concerns over shootings in New York cities, seizing potentially on a potent issue for New Yorkers as pandemic guidelines begin to loosen.
In the state Senate, Republicans unveiled a package of parole bills meant to add new restrictions for parole, consider the impact of victims and make it easier to remove parole board members.
In a statement, Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt pointed to the list of people convicted of killing police officers who have been released in recent years through parole, including Herman Bell, Anthony Bottom and Richard Rivera.
"The list of cop-killers released by Andrew Cuomo’s out-of-control Parole Board in the past few years goes on and on," Ortt said. "As if that weren’t bad enough, radicals in the one-party-rule Legislature are now planning to spring New York’s most dangerous criminals loose with their latest 'reforms.'"
In the state Assembly, Republicans announced support for bills that would add hate crimes and gun-related crimes to the list of offenses requiring bail, and provide more power to judges to determine whether bail should be set. And lawmakers in the GOP conference want the passage of a bill that would authorize life in prison for "persistent" violent felony offenders.
"How many more innocent victims are going to be shot, assaulted or killed before we advance a meaningful crime bill to address the egregious shortcomings in our criminal justice system? It’s time for Albany to do something about the horror stories we’re seeing every day. It’s time to advance common-sense measures to restore order,” Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said.
“In 2019, every Democrat in New York told us their ‘reforms’ were going to make communities safer. Within three months of enactment, they had to roll back their disastrous bill and they should have kept on rolling. Their record on public safety is clear: Democrats are not interested in things like law and order or protecting New Yorkers – in fact, they’re offended by it.”