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More than bail changes could end up in the final NYS budget

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

As New York’s budget talks focus on the state’s contentious bail law, additional changes to the criminal justice system are being considered behind the scenes, with the final spending plan now overdue by over two weeks.

Gov. Kathy Hochul and lawmakers are discussing potential amendments to the state’s discovery law, first approved four years ago to expedite evidence access for criminal defendants. Concurrently, advocates are pushing to include legislation that would replace police response with crisis teams during mental health emergencies.

These proposals are part of a broader, ongoing debate on criminal justice in New York, as officials and advocates strive to balance equity in the system with public safety.

Discussions around modifying the state’s discovery law have also taken place, as some prosecutors, like Albany County District Attorney David Soares, consider the requirements excessively burdensome and expensive. However, Laurette Mulry of the Legal Aid Society of Suffolk County has urged lawmakers not to reverse the 2019 changes to the law, which were designed to expedite defendants’ case adjudication.

One potential change could involve relaxing evidence turnover timelines, but Mulry suggests that lawmakers should consider increasing funding for DA offices, as proposed by Gov. Hochul in her budget plan, to maintain the current discovery laws and ensure timely access to critical evidence.