NY Republicans hold public safety press conference

ALBANY, N.Y. (WHEC) — Republican leaders in New York are calling for a change in policy when it comes to handling public safety in the state. Tuesday they specifically took aim at bail reform.

Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt (62nd District) said the law is one of many that Democrats have put in place that have actually hurt public safety, citing data that found a 700% increase in gun violence in Albany and a 174% increase in gun violence in Rochester since 2019 and at least a 42% in each of New York’s five major cities.

Ortt also cited that statewide in 2020, 21% of defendants arraigned on felony charges were rearrested for a new crime following pre-trial release.

He argues that "one-party rule" has led to some dangerous practices.

"It’s important that the people of New York State, from Nassau County to Niagara County, and everywhere in-between, know that there is an alternative to the governing philosophy, and policies and EOs [executive orders] and mandates that have come out of Albany in the last two years, the last three years," Ortt said.

Ortt said the Republican plan will include more policies that paint criminals as criminals, instead of victims. Those bills include:

  • Restoring Judicial Discretion (A.5265) which would allow judges to determine whether a violent criminal poses a dangerous threat to the community and can be held without bail.
  • Bail for Gun Crimes (A.7066) which would remove all gun crimes from the no-bail list of offenses established in 2019.
  • Parole Reform (A.5737) which would require a unanimous vote of at least three parole commissioners to grant a prisoner early release, and allow a majority vote of the Legislature to remove a commissioner from the Parole Board.
  • Three Strikes & You’re In (A.5334) which would authorize life in prison without parole for persistent violent felony offenders.
  • Shooting Into Crowds (A.4259) which would make it a Class B violent felony to fire into a crowded space with the intent to harm.
  • Additional 5 Years for Possession (A.4762) which would provide for an additional 5-year term of imprisonment for committing a felony while possessing a loaded firearm.
  • Bail for Hate Crimes (A.3986) which would make it a hate crime a qualified offense for purposes of bail issuance and denying pre-trial.
  • Paula’s Law (A.6017) which would prevent the parole of anyone who sexually assaults and murders a child.
  • Bail Reform Repeal (A.6963-A) which would repeal bail reforms and other criminal justice reforms enacted in Chapters 55 and 59 of the Laws of 2019 and Chapter 56 of the Laws of 2020 and restore the prior language.
  • Judicial Discretion for Additional Crimes (A.7772) which would add any crime resulting in death or physical injury to the list of qualifying offenses that allow judges to impose bail or deny pretrial release, including previously carved-out violent felony crimes.
  • Risk Assessment (A.6933) which would restore judicial discretion relating to bail reform, and provide that when the defendant is charged with a felony, the court shall request of the applicable county pretrial services agency that a risk and needs assessment to be conducted.