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What new powers would judges have if changes are made to NY’s bail laws?

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  • Staff Report 

Over 120 law enforcement officials, politicians, and business leaders from the Greater Rochester Area have signed a letter calling on Assembly Members and Senators representing the area to support Governor Kathy Hochul’s new proposals to change some of the state’s bail laws.


The proposals target the “least restrictive means” standard, which requires judges to determine if there’s any alternative to keep the defendant in custody during pre-trial. Former Rochester Police Chief and Mayor Bob Duffy is one of the individuals calling for the standard to be eliminated. The Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President, Bob Duffy, and 127 other community leaders sent letters to every Senator and Assembly Member of the Greater Rochester Area stating that the community has been in a “public safety crisis” and that more changes to bail laws are necessary.

Duffy argues that the “least restrictive means” standard causes confusion for some judges, and it’s not an issue of economics and wealth but rather of behavior and actions. The Governor’s proposal would give judges more discretion in cases where “serious crimes” have been committed, and judges would be able to use their knowledge of individuals to determine if they should be kept in custody during pre-trial.


However, the Center for Community Alternatives, a criminal justice advocacy group, argues that the “least restrictive means” standard is promised under New York State’s constitution and that research shows that pretrial incarceration increases the likelihood of future arrests and undermines individuals’ health and safety.

Governor Hochul has stated that the proposal would only apply in cases where “serious crimes” have been committed, and Duffy assured that this would not lead to all offenders being locked up because they can’t afford bail. Instead, he argues that individuals who have committed multiple serious crimes, such as those involved in shootings or carrying illegal weapons, should be kept in custody during pre-trial regardless of their economic status.



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