UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – On Thursday, September 22nd, officials from around the state joined Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol and Madison County Sheriff Todd Hood to push for needed changes to New York’s criminal justice system.
This press conference came to be as a result of several incidents that have affected New Yorkers over the past three years, but also because of a recent email sent out by Oneida County District Attorney, Scott McNamara, which highlights a recent example of what he calls another failed example of bail reform in New York State.
“Basically, the allegations are, there was a gentleman who was arrested for DWI here in the city of Utica, and his blood alcohol content was approximately .32…that’s four times the legal limit,” explained McNamara.
“There was an accident involved, he was issued tickets, which would imply that he was the cause of that accident.”
He continued, “Under the bail reform law, the judge that he would go in front of didn’t even take place because the law requires that he’s given appearance tickets.”
McNamara then explains that the man from this example finally received appearance tickets in July, which would require him to face a judge, but before that was able to happen, another accident occurred.
“About a month and a half later he’s arrested again, this time he’s got two children in the car allegedly, and his alleged blood alcohol content was .30,” he said.
“So, what do we have to have? Another family killed in a car accident? Another innocent couple going out to dinner where this guy kills somebody? No, we can’t get bail on him.”
The state’s bail law was changed back in 2019 and ended cash bail for everything shy of the most severe and violent offenses, and as a result, these officials say, is causing significant repeat offenses.
They explained that this group unanimously does not look at this as a political issue, but instead as a public safety issue, as many dangerous criminals are being released back into communities across the state, each day.
“None of us argue about the need for criminal justice reform, what we argue is that we do it right,” said Senator Joseph Griffo.
“People in law enforcement, prosecution, and criminal defense attorneys, all of them should have had involvement and an opportunity to give their perspective as to how the laws could be put together, to best serve the people in the state of New York.”
But that was not the case, and now these officials are joining together to push for what they believe are needed changes to the justice system.
“Each and every time that we have tried to bring cases to the attention of this governor, and the leadership, and the legislature, to make the necessary changes to keep New Yorkers safe, there’s been resistance and a reluctance to do so,” said Griffo.
“So, if they’re not going to change these policies, to protect New Yorkers, all of us need to change the people who are running New York.”
And now there is nothing else these officials can do except wait for a response, or action, from Governor Kathy Hochul, and of course, we’ll keep you updated on any new developments.