ORISKANY, NY (WUTR-TV) — In a number of press conferences throughout the state on Thursday, law enforcement bemoaned pending alterations to the New York’s criminal justice system.
Effective Jan. 1 the way evidence is gathered and disseminated, and the judicial permission to impose bail on certain charges, will change.
“We’re calling upon the governor and to the legislature to immediately convene and suspend the effective date of these new laws,” Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol said in the Oriskany-based press conference at the county jail.
Starting in 2020, law enforcement say victims and witnesses of crimes could have their personal information–names, addresses and phone numbers–shared with criminal defense teams.
In addition, prosecutors must share incidental evidence with defense teams within 15 days of arraignment.
Utica Police Chief Mark Williams says “based on the exhaustive list of discovery material that we’re going to have to provide to the defense, eventually, I see our officers in more clerical positions than doing their job out on the street.”
Also happening on Jan. 1, cash bail gets eliminated for many “non-violent felony offenses,” as they’re called.
Law enforcement say those charges include stalking, promoting a sexual performance by a child, second-degree burglary and criminal possession of a firearm.
Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara shared, what he deems, a hypothetical situation after bail reforms take effect.
“Somebody shoots up somebody’s house–they’re rival drug dealers. We see it all the time in the City of Utica. That’s reckless endangerment in the first degree. That person has to be released. Now, they’re going to go back and they shoot up the house again. They’re going to be charged, and they’re going to be released,” McNamara said.
Jason Conwall, the deputy communications director for Governor Andrew Cuomo, said “We carefully considered the views of law enforcement to ensure we enacted balanced reforms that were long overdue and will bring greater fairness to New York’s criminal justice system.”
McNamara and Maciol, who is also the president of the New York State Sheriff’s Association, disputed the claim that law enforcement were consulted throughout the legislative process in 2019.
“None of the experts were consulted with. Police chiefs, sheriffs, district attorneys, probation directors. No one was consulted with,” Maciol said.