In his state of the state, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he plans to remove the option of cash bail for all non-violent felony offenders.
This means the criminal would be released on their own recognizance. Now, you may think that district attorney’s would be opposed to this option. But that’s not entirely the case.
“There’s definitely different treatment based upon wealth and that is problematic and it’s wrong,” said Scott McNamara, the Oneida County District Attorney.
McNamara points to Kaitlyn Conley, the Sauquoit woman found guilty of manslaughter, who was able to remain in her home during both of her murder trials, after posting bail.
“In my career I don’t remember any other defendant in a murder case having that opportunity. And the reason she had that opportunity is because she comes from wealth,” McNamara said.
Cuomo’s idea would give equal opportunity to both the wealthy and the poor. But there’s a problem with this scenario.
“There are a lot of non-violent felony offenses that are very violent,” McNamara said.
McNamara explained how domestic violence cases are considered non-violent and the offender is typically only charged with a misdemeanor.
“We know statistically and historically that when a woman makes the decision to leave her spouse, that is the most dangerous time in her life for her husband to kill her,” McNamara said.
If Cuomo’s suggestion comes into effect, that person can be released and pose a risk to the victim. However, every case is different.
“It’s the nuances of different cases. To draw a line in the sand as say, ‘If you’re on this side, you’re alright and on this side, you’re not,’ is problematic for prosecutors,” McNamara said.
Instead of this concrete rule, McNamara offered another option known as a rebuttable presumption.
“On all of your misdemeanor cases, that the defendant would be presumed that they should be released on ROR. Unless the DA can prove to the court that they should be held,” McNamara said.