New York Republican lawmakers are once again calling for changes and outright rollbacks of the state’s bail laws, pointing to recent incidents in the state as why the law is problematic.

First passed in 2019, Democrats, who hold supermajorities in both chambers of the state Legislature, have amended the law three times since then, the most recent being last year.

State Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, in a release on Friday, cited a recent study from John Jay College of Criminal Justice showing that 66% of people with a prior arrest who were detained and released in suburban and upstate counties as a result of the state’s bail laws went on to be re-arrested within two years.

The Republican leader also cited an incident last week where a St. John Fisher University student was charged with second-degree attempted kidnapping and first-degree attempted sex abuse. Court documents allege the suspect threatened an employee with the knife and attempted to abduct her and subject her to sexual contact. Investigators say the employee was able to safely disarm him before he fled. The suspect was arraigned on $30,000 cash bail/$75,000 bond, which was posted. He was released, arrested again the next day for stalking, and again released. Court documents show an order of protection has been filed on behalf of the victim.

Barclay also cited an incident in Suffolk County where four suspects were charged with concealing a human corpse and evidence tampering in a case where two dismembered bodies were discovered. The suspects were released due to, at least at this time, not being charged with the killing itself.

As a result of that case, Long Island Republicans state Sen. Anthony Palumbo and Assemblyman Michael Durso have introduced legislation to make body dismemberment or concealment of a corpse a bail-eligible offense.

“Democrats’ bail policies have already been amended three times because they were such an ill-conceived disaster, and here we are again,” Palumbo, who is also ranking member of the Senate Judiciary and Codes Committees,  said in a statement Friday. “Every Democratic legislator who voted for bail reform should hang their head in shame at the notion that we have to scramble to introduce legislation to keep people in jail who are charged with a crime as horrific as body dismemberment. It is a real-life nightmare.”

One of the Assembly Republicans’ bills restores a judge’s ability to determine whether a violent individual poses a dangerous threat to the community and can be held without bail. Democrats changed the bail law in 2023 to end the so-called "least restrictive" standard when bail is being considered by judges in serious criminal cases and to give them more discretion when considering bail.

“Instead of the standard of dangerousness, we ask the judges now to look at a whole body of evidence. When you think about it, dangerousness is a subjective standard,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said Friday morning on PIX 11 to a question regarding the Suffolk County case. “That's why it was removed from the law previously. I was trying to build back something analogous to that, something that allows the judge to look at the whole body of the individual, what they've done before, the severity of the case; was a gun involved? So, it all does add up to, 'Is this a dangerous person?' So that's in place right now. Now, this is a very unique circumstance in Suffolk County. And I know the Suffolk County Police Department is working so hard to get to the bottom of this as is the DA. So, when partial evidence comes up, I do think that there'll be opportunities for them to bring their case."

Barclay also has suggested a legislative solution that repeals the 2019 and 2020 versions of the law relating to cashless bail, criminal discovery and reducing and reducing misdemeanor sentences.

Assembly Republicans last fall also introduced a bill that would make threats of mass harm treated as hate crimes, while also giving judges more discretion when making pre-trial decisions. It was in response in part to recent threats made against Jewish students at Cornell University. At the time, Hochul said she was open to looking into changes when it comes to cases of terroristic threats.

All this comes after Hochul earlier this week deployed the National Guard and state police into the New York City subway system to help with bag checks following a recent surge in transit crime, part of what the governor called a five-point plan to crack down on crime in transit.

“Sadly, data, anecdotes and tragedies will continue to pile up until the Democrats do something about the misguided laws they authored,” Barclay said in his Friday release.


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