Legal Aid's Opposition to Changes in NY Bail Law Announced by Mayor de Blasio

The Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Practice Chief Justine M. Luongo and Deborah L. Wright, Esq., President of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys - UAW Local 2325 released the following statement this morning concerning Mayor de Blasio’s call to change state law and allow judges to consider a defendant’s risk to public safety when setting bail or considering incarceration-alternative programs:

“While our hearts ache for the family of New York City Police Officer Randolph Holder and the entire NYPD, we oppose the types of changes to New York State’s bail system advocated today by Mayor de Blasio.

New York State’s current bail statute has been in effect since 1971, and rightfully affords judges a wide array of bail options to help ensure that individuals charged with a crime return to Court. Additionally, the law also allows judges to remand a person without bail in certain circumstances involving felonies.

Under the statute which has been effectively used since 1971, public safety is hardly ever at risk. In fact, recent studies all point to a steady decrease in felony arrests and just this past summer, Commissioner Bratton announced that the City was on its way to reduce felonies to an historic low. While the death of Police Officer Holder is a tragedy for the entire city, changing our statute to undermine the presumption of innocence is not the answer and would have disastrous consequences for fairness in the criminal justice system statewide.”