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‘DO YOU FEEL SAFER’: Officials decry bail reform measures citing budgetary, public safety concerns

What about the budget?

That was a big question posed by local elected leaders when bail reform measures were passed. Governor Andrew Cuomo contended that there would be enough savings to flatten out expenses.

That remains to be seen, though, and Schuyler County Administrator Timothy O’Hearn says the reforms have already made an impact on their 2020 budget.

“The two largest impacts are the bail reforms as well as the changes in the discovery laws that will affect prosecution and the law enforcement side,” he explained to Finger Lakes News Radio. “It puts a tremendous amount of added pressure on law enforcement and the district attorney to provide the required discovery information within a very short timeframe.”

He says that for Schuyler County the bottom line is simple: More staff. More expense.

O’Hearn says that 79 percent of the increase in Schuyler County’s tax levy can be attributed directly to necessary additions in the District Attorney’s Office. “Through no fault of His own,” the County Administrator added in that conversation with Finger Lakes News Radio.

Smaller counties, like Yates and Schuyler, O’Hearn contends – are the least able to absorb costs associated with unfunded mandates passed down by New York State.

However, administrators like O’Hearn aren’t the only ones with concerns about new bail reform measures.

Livingston County Sheriff Thomas Dougherty tweeted out around 10:30 p.m. with anecdotal evidence of what he says will be the ‘norm’ in 2020.

Those arrested on non-violent crimes in New York are set free under the changes, without bail until their trial begins. Prosecutors have 15 days after arraignment to hand over evidence to the defense, which creates the challenges echoed by O’Hearn.


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