ORISKANY, NY ( WUTR-TV) — Over 90 inmates are being released from the Oneida County Jail in preparation of statewide reforms to the bail system, Sheriff Robert Maciol said.
“We have released several that probably are a concern for the safety of the community,” Maciol told Eyewitness News.
The New York State legislature passed, and received approval from Governor Andrew Cuomo, sweeping criminal justice reform in 2019; including the elimination of cash bail for many charges.
Before the Jan. 1 effective date, detainees are being let go.
Among the offenses attached to inmates released in Oneida County are drug-related charges, larcenies, DWI and burglary, according to Maciol who says the jail’s current booking roster holds the lowest amount of names in around 30 years.
“Originally we had a number as high as 157 (inmates to be released),” but Maciol said that number dropped because those still held on bail-exempt charges previously pleaded guilty.
Maciol said some alleged criminals, who were released, returned to the jail with bail set at $1 or $5.
“There’s still the ability for a defendant, themselves, to request that bail be put on them,” Maciol said.
Oneida County Court Judge Michael Dwyer said bail for a “nominal amount” has been granted for those who requested it, in order for the defendant to get credit for time served–some for probation violations.
Because some, now-released, inmates were supplied medication to curb issues with drugs and mental health while in custody, Maciol says the Oneida County Department of Social Services interviewed participating inmates, to see where DSS could help.
Housing, the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), job search assistance and medical appointments were included in the county’s offer for help.
Otsego County Sheriff Richard Devlin says “two or three” inmates have been released in preparation of bail reform.
Herkimer County Sheriff Christopher Farber said it is difficult to pinpoint an exact number of inmates to be released due to bail changes. But, Farber said he foresees a 35-percent reduction of the county’s inmate population as a result.