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Cuomo, N.Y. Lawmakers to Rollback Some Bail Reform Measures following Police Criticism

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo delivers remarks at a news conference regarding the first confirmed case of coronavirus in N.Y., March 2, 2020. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

New York lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo plan to roll back some measures enacted in bail reform legislation at the beginning of 2020, in response to pushback from state police, The Journal News reported on Thursday.

Cuomo and lawmakers appear to have agreed to add several misdemeanors and felonies to a list of crimes for which a judge may demand cash bail to release a suspect. Those crimes include any act leading to someone’s death, promotion of child pornography, first degree grand larceny, and others.

The state eliminated cash bail last year for most misdemeanors and Class E felonies, excepting violent crimes. Supporters of the legislation said the practice of demanding cash bail places an unfair burden on poor offenders. However, New York City police and Mayor Bill de Blasio have blamed the law for a 21-percent spike in crime since the beginning of 2020.

“There’s a direct correlation to a change in the law, and we need to address it, and we will address it,” de Blasio said at a press conference at the beginning of March. An NYPD press release from the same time stated, “Criminal justice reforms serve as a significant reason New York City has seen this uptick in crime.”

New York lawmakers will vote on the rollbacks on Thursday when approving the state’s budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Negotiations over the budget have turned more urgent in the wake of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, which has forced a shutdown of large sectors of the economy.

The state’s budget deficit could reach as much as $20 billion as a result, the New York Post reported.

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