Metzger joins Dem push to amend bail reform (updated x2)

State Sen. Jen Metzger has added her support to two Democratic bills modifying state bail reforms that took effect and have prompted a torrent of criticism from law enforcement officials and Republicans.

The Rosendale Democrat announced Wednesday she had become a co-sponsor for a bill several Long Island senators introduced last week that would restore judicial discretion by allowing judges to order suspects held on bail if they might flee or pose a danger to their victims or others.

“The bail reform law passed last year sought to fix a system that everyone, including DAs and law enforcement, agreed was flawed, but the new law needs changes to better protect public safety,” Metzger said in a statement. “I have been meeting with stakeholders throughout my district on the reforms, and I believe we can strike the right balance.”

The law that took effect Jan. 1 eliminated bail altogether for suspects charged with most misdemeanors and certain felonies. The goal was to correct the injustice of jailing only poor defendants who can’t afford bail while awaiting trial, but the reforms have caused an uproar about releasing suspects who may be dangerous or unlikely to return to court.

Metzger, along with the Long Island senators, also have signed on as co-sponsors for a separate bill by Sen. James Skoufis, D-Cornwall, that would enable judges to order ankle bracelets for any suspect with a past conviction for a violent crime, regardless of the level or when it occurred. The law enacted last year allows electronic monitoring when a suspect has had a violent felony conviction in the last five years.

Assembly Republicans held a press conference on Wednesday in Albany with law enforcement officials and relatives of crime victims to demand changes in the new bail law.

“Lives are being cut short, families left in mourning, because Assembly Democrats believe justice starts and ends with protecting criminals over the law-abiding middle class – disgraceful,” Assemblyman Karl Brabenec, a Deerpark Republican, said in a statement afterward. “I am calling on Assembly Democrats to do the right thing and work with us to make changes to bail reform immediately before more damage is done.”


Mike Martucci, the Republican who plans to challenge Metzger for the 42nd Senate District seat, went after her for bail reform in a statement on Thursday after launching his campaign, previewing what is certain to be a central GOP message this year.

“Our current state senator just doesn’t get it,” he said. “We should not be putting the rights of criminals over the rights of our families – especially if it threatens public safety.”

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