Updated: March 30, 2022 12:03 AM
Created: March 29, 2022 07:05 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) - Governor Hochul is pushing for leaders in Albany to adopt new changes to the state's bail laws as part of the new budget.
The proposals have left many public defenders and grassroots organizations upset and worried this will only hurt more people of color.
Governor Hochul said these proposals are all part of her new public safety plan driven by an uptick of pandemic-era gun violence seen across the state.
“My first thought is that it shouldn't be done in the budget process. The budget process is rushed,” Monroe County interim public defender Jill Paperno said.
Paperno is not on board with Governor Hochul's proposed changes to bail reform.
This comes as there's a sharp rise in gun violence across the state, hoping to address what the governor is calling a public safety crisis.
“One proposal is that repeat offenders or people who are out of custody and are alleged to have engaged in other offenses while they're out of custody should be subject to bail,” Paperno said. “And what comes to mind for me is many of our clients who are low income and may engage in small, petit larcenies at Wegmans, for example. By setting bail for them on these low-level offenses before they've ever been convicted of anything and without looking at their circumstances, are they stealing food for their family or something? That's a concern. We're again punishing poor people.”
Hochul wants to expand the number of crimes eligible for bail, allow police to arrest people for minor repeat offenses and expand the number of gun crimes that are eligible for bail among other things.
“You look at the statistics, it's not people who are coming out of jail or prison who are nonviolent criminals,” Rev. Lewis Stewart sad. “The offenses are misdemeanors and stuff like that. They're doing these crimes and things of that sort. It's some people who are carrying guns, shooting people and killing people.”
Reverend Lewis Stewart said he is on board with Hochul's plan to address gun violence and provide pretrial services for those mentally ill.
Overall he said, right now the changes proposed would disproportionately affect the poor and black and brown communities.
“It took a long time to put bail reform in place and if you put it in the budget, it's going to be a problem that addresses nothing and it's just going to basically inflame the whole issue,” Stewart said.
The proposed changes are in the state budget which will be due and voted on this Friday, April 1st.
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