Gov. Hochul and Lt. Gov. Benjamin outline their bail reform plans

NEW YORK (WHEC) — After weeks of refusing to comment on bail reform plans, Gov. Kathy Hochul and Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin wrote an op-ed in the New York Daily News.

This comes after The New York Post reported on a leaked document from the Governor’s Office laying out the plans to reform bail reform.

Now, in the op-ed published Wednesday, they said that "Blaming bail reform for the increase in violence that cities across America are facing isn’t fair and isn’t supported by the data. Doing so risks distracting us from what are likely far more significant factors: upheaval from the pandemic, the availability of illegal guns, increased gang activity, lower arrest rates and a backed-up court system, to name a few."

They then go on to address ways to continue to make progress toward a fairer criminal justice system.

First, there is a problem that needs to be addressed: Repeat offenders.

They said that "if someone is committing a second or third offense while out on pretrial release, officers should be able to make an arrest and not be limited, as they are in many cases, to issuing a “desk appearance ticket.” Similarly, hate crimes should be subject to arrest, not desk appearance tickets. And for repeat offenders, judges should be allowed to set bail — even if the crime would not currently be bail-eligible."

Next, they said that judges should be able to set bail in all felony cases involving illegal guns, including guns given or sold to minors. These crimes are "astonishingly, not currently bail-eligible."

Finally, they said that "for violent crimes and crimes involving guns, we should make it possible for judges to set more restrictive pretrial conditions, based on concrete criteria."

Other changes include improving the ways in which mental health and police intervention can be in better collaboration.

They said, "we need to strengthen Kendra’s Law to make it easier for judges to require individuals who are struggling with serious mental illness and present a danger to themselves or others to participate in mandatory outpatient treatment."

Finally, they seek to make it easier for those who have served time in jail to reenter successfully, saying that they are "proud to have enacted ‘Less Is More’ legislation so that individuals are not imprisoned for technical parole violations, and why we have proposed allowing people behind bars to participate in the state’s Tuition Assistance Program so that they can come out of prison with more education and skills than when they went in.