As the negotiators ground on between lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul over the contentious debate surrounding New York's bail law, local prosecutors were brought in to discuss their concerns.
And now with those changes to the bail laws on the books, some prosecutors hope further efforts to address public safety will be made.
"What we saw the last week fo March and the first week of April was a willingness of more people to come together," said Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan in an interview this week.
A range from Democrats and Republicans alike — including Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams — have said the bail changes were necessary to address issues stemming from a rise in violent crime in New York. The law first approved in 2019 ending cash bail requirements for many criminal charges became a major point of concern.
The changes are also coming in an election year, when voters themselves have identified public safety as a key issue that they face. It's not yet clear how, or if, voters will feel any safer as a result of the changes.
But Jordan pointed to the negotiations as an important starting point for a discussion around how to handle public safety — often a contentious and emotional issue.
"We finally started a dialogue and a willingness by the Legislature to work with the subject matter experts and talk about what are some of the problems and challenges created by, what are some of the problems created by those important criminal justice changes in the 2019 budget," Jordan said.
And he does not want the conversation over crime to stop with the budget that was finalized this month.
"If you look in these small parts of these communites that are being decimated by the crime, there ought to be a continued dialogue and I'm confident that there will be," he said.
On the other side of the issue, activists like Roger Clark with VOCAL New York are not happy with the changes. They argue it will make low-income defendants accused of crimes, but not convicted, less safe, and leave more people to wait in jail for their trials to begin.
"The changes that they did will have an effect on low-income individuals, particularly Black and brown individuals," he said.
Instead, Clark said the focus should placed on illegal guns — an issue Hochul has said New York is dealing with through an interstate and interagency task force.
"To address the issue, go after the gun manufacturers who are actually smuggling this stuff in," Clark said.