Law enforcement leaders, Republicans protest bail reform at Capitol

Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler speaks at bail reform protest

Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler and three Republican assemblymen representing parts of Orange County took part in a large rally in Albany on Tuesday in opposition to the state’s elimination of bail for many crimes while suspects are awaiting trial.

Police chiefs, sheriffs, district attorneys and Republican lawmakers held the protest in the Capitol to denounce bail reforms that took effect on Jan. 1 and have allowed more defendants to avoid jail. Law enforcement leaders and Republicans have been hammering the new policy as dangerous for weeks, highlighting a wave of news reports about violent suspects getting released. Some agree reforms were needed but say the law went too far and should be modified.

“Our law-enforcement brothers and sisters are at the heart of the criminal justice, and no discussion about the laws of the state can take place without their input,” Hoovler, president of the state District Attorneys Association, said in a statement afterward. “Victims and their families are the most vulnerable members of our communities and are also at the heart of the criminal justice system. It is high time that we really listen to law enforcement and victims if we want to make sure these reforms work for all New Yorkers.”

Democratic lawmakers, who supported the reforms to stop jailing poor defendants who can’t afford bail, have responded in different ways to the outcry, with some supporting amendments to restore judicial discretion and others arguing more time is needed to judge the impact.

Assemblymen Karl Brabenec, Colin Schmitt and Brian Miller, each of whom has parts of Orange County in his district, all attended the rally and issued statements denouncing bail reform afterward.

“The past 35 days have been a nightmare for the people of New York, and we need to repeal these laws immediately before any more harm is done,” Brabenec, R-Deerpark, said. “I introduced legislation three months ago to repeal bail reform because I knew this would be a disaster, and now our darkest fears have been confirmed.”

Republicans hold weak minorities in both the Senate and Assembly and are unlikely to spur an outright repeal. But they have seized bail reform as a central political message that will likely continue through campaign season this fall.

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