North Country Sen. Griffo again calls for bail reform repeal
Saturday, January 11, 2020 - 6:35 pm

New York State Senate Deputy Minority Leader Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, has called for the repeal of the bail reform law that went into effect at the beginning of the year.

The reform has faced harsh criticism from many legislators, law enforcement, district attorneys, crime victims and other stakeholders since it was first proposed last year.

During this past week’s legislative session, Deputy Minority Leader Griffo and the Senate Republican Conference introduced an amendment on the floor that would repeal the new bail reform. However, the amendment was defeated along party lines.

“Bail reform was enacted last year without a single Republican vote and has resulted in criminals and potentially dangerous individuals being released back into communities throughout the state,” Griffo said. “I acknowledge that there is a need for criminal justice reform. However, as a result of this flawed reform and no input from important stakeholders such as district attorneys and law enforcement, the safety of New Yorkers is at risk. Fixing this disastrous new law remains a priority of mine. It’s time for the Majority to listen and take this issue seriously.”

In addition to efforts to repeal the new bail reform law, Griffo continues to support a Senate bill that allows courts to make a risk assessment based on individual’s criminal history. Judges do not have such discretion under the law that went into effect at the beginning of the year.

While bail reform has gotten much attention since it was first introduced, Griffo also stressed a need to also revisit and revise changes made to the criminal discovery process. Discovery reform, which was passed as part of the state budget, requires all evidence be turned over to defendants within 15 days, including who witnesses are and where they live. However, issues with the changes include:

· The possibility that the identity of witnesses could be exposed, which could result in an increase in harassment, intimidation and violence. Witnesses may refuse to cooperate if they know their personal information will be given to the defendant prior to trial.

· Discovery within 15 days after arraignment is a very narrow timeframe especially in cases where prosecutors are dealing with multiple police agencies. Some police agencies take up to 30 days to provide a police report.

· Defendants will have access to crime scenes.