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Hochul aims for major changes to state’s bail system

Governor Hochul is pushing for another overhaul of the state’s bail system, which was discussed by state lawmakers during a budget hearing on Tuesday. The Democrats questioned administration officials and court higher-ups about the governor’s proposal to remove the “least restrictive” language from the state’s bail laws. Hochul claims that this clause has caused confusion among judges since the 2019 reforms that limited pretrial detention for most nonviolent crimes.

Acting Chief Administrative Judge Tamiko Amaker rejected the idea that the state’s judges are not properly trained or aware of the law. Out of the 1,300 judges presiding over criminal cases in New York City, roughly 1,000 participated in training on the bail laws.

Hochul was successful in negotiating language into the state budget last year that gave judges more discretion to set bail in cases involving repeat offenders, guns, and defendants in violation of orders of protection.

Katie Schaffer, the director of advocacy and organizing for the Center for Community Alternatives, stated that removing the least restrictive standard would lead to an increase in incarceration and bias by judges. Republicans and Mayor Adams have repeatedly pushed for granting judges more discretion when setting bail and have blamed reforms for increases in crime.

During the hearing, Democrats questioned the lack of data showing any correlation between cashless bail and increases in crime. Division of Criminal Justice Services Commissioner Rossana Rosado said that judges have inconsistent application of the reforms.

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