Republican lawmakers call for change in bail reform

Republican lawmakers call for change in bail reform

Photo from Lee Zeldin's office

Suffolk County Republican lawmakers joined together last week calling on Democratic leaders in Albany to repeal the state’s cashless bail law. They argue that it has led to an uptick in violent crime.

Spearheaded by U.S. Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) — who is also the GOP’s potential nominee for governor in 2022 — he said that while on the campaign trail, he hears from people across both political parties who agree that bail reform needs to change.

“Many areas of the state that I’ve been to support repealing cashless bail,” Zeldin said during a press conference on Wednesday, Nov. 10. “They share stories about how cashless bail has eroded public safety.”

He added that the “red wave” that hit Suffolk County — including the success of newly elected Republican District Attorney Ray Tierney, could help send a message to majority Democrats to repeal the bail reform law.

“Too many New Yorkers have already witnessed the ramifications of this dangerous law first-hand, and on Election Day 2021 they made it abundantly clear that they have had enough,” Zeldin said. “This fatally flawed law undermines New York’s men and women in blue, their morale, their efforts and, most importantly, their authority. In the courtroom, it rips away judges’ judicial discretion, ties their hands and forces them to ignore prior convictions and the risk of repeat offenders. Instead of handcuffing criminals, this misguided law handcuffs justice, and every day New Yorkers are the ones paying the price.”

Tierney interjected and said that a package of newly enacted or proposed Democratic bills, including those that reform parole and would expunge many misdemeanor convictions and lower-level felonies, fail to keep the public safe.

“We are here to say these laws do not keep us safer,” Tierney said. “And we need to repeal some of these laws and start to think about the victims and the victims’ families when we consider criminal justice reform.”

He added that during the most-recent election, he and his GOP colleagues saw that bail reform and criminal justice were huge issues that needed to be tackled.

“We saw suddenly our elected officials coming to the realization that bail reform and criminal justice reform did not keep us safe and it was not an effective law,” he said.

Zeldin and Tierney were joined by members of the state Senate and Assembly. Sen. Mario Mattera (R-St. James) congratulated Tierney on his recent win.

“I’m so excited that the people spoke,” Mattera said. “They wanted to make sure we have the right people in place to keep our residents safe.”

Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) said that bail reform “needs to change — it’s dangerous.”

“The people have spoken,” he added. “They finally remember the victims who have been forgotten by the two majorities.”

Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio (R-Riverhead) agreed that victims and witnesses are currently not safe.

“It’s not right what happened, we need to repeal it,” she said. “Repeat offenders need to be behind bars and judges need that jurisdiction back.”