Law enforcement officials express concerns over bail reform law

Elise Czajkowski
November 21, 2019 - 3:24 pm
Richmond County DA Michael McMahon speaks about bail reform

Sonia Rincon/1010 WINS

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NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Law enforcement officials from across the state gathered on Thursday to speak out against upcoming criminal justice reform laws.

Acting Queens District Attorney John Ryan and Richmond County District Attorney Michael McMahon, alongside representatives from police unions and other agencies, held a press conference in Staten Island to voice their opposition to new laws that will take effect Jan. 1.

The changes will eliminate cash bail and pretrial detention for nonviolent criminals in state prisons, as well as require prosecutors to disclose evidence to defendants earlier.

Charts used to argue against new bail laws
Sonia Rincon/1010 WINS

Ryan and McMahon both acknowledged that bail reform was necessary to ensure that no one was held simply because of poverty.

But McMahon argued that judges should have more authority to decide whether a person should be remanded based on public safety concerns.

McMahon also referenced the list of charges that would automatically make someone eligible for release, like second- and third-degree robbery and stalking. “There are crimes that an average person would consider violent," McMahon argued.

Ryan said that 200 people in Queens currently being held on bail would be released on Jan. 1.

He also accused Albany lawmakers of not taking police or victims into account when they passed the bill. "I know, but I will not name, members of the legislature that voted for this and did not know what they voted for," Ryan said, "and came and asked us questions afterwards."

In a statement, the Chief Defenders Association of New York accused opponents of the new laws of "using taxpayer resources to mislead and spread baseless fear in our communities rather than working to implement the new laws that New Yorkers overwhelmingly support."