A coalition of nearly 130 groups and individuals pushing for criminal justice reform says plans put forward by Gov. Cuomo last month to change the pretrial system don’t go far enough.
The #FREEnewyork coalition praised the governor’s state budget plan for including proposals to end cash bail, expand use of mandatory desk appearance tickets, and ensure defendants are not forced to bear the cost of provisions for release, such as pretrial services and electronic monitoring.
“However, other provisions stray from our common goal of protecting the presumption of innocence and vastly reducing the number of people incarcerated pretrial,” the coalition said in a letter to Cuomo and state lawmakers last week.
With Cuomo due to soon submit 30-day amendments to his budget proposal, the coalition is asking for:
- An end to most pretrial electric monitoring of defendants not being kept locked up.
- A mandate that defendants will not be jailed before trial if they did not actually commit “true acts” of violence, even if a crime with which they are charged is statutorily considered a violent felony.
- Elimination of ongoing pretrial drug testing.
- No punishment for defendants who decline pretrial services, such as drug rehabilitation.
- Release before trial unless a case can be made to keep someone locked up and pretrial detention to be based on a high risk of flight to evade prosecution.
- Additional due process protection for pretrial detention hearings.
- Elimination of a proposal that would give judges the option to consider if someone may cause future harm and therefore keep a person locked up before trial.
- Strengthening of the speedy trial provision proposed by Cuomo.
“With these amendments, New York can start to right the wrongs caused by decades of discriminatory bail practices, and lead the nation toward a more just retail system,” the coalition wrote.
The letter was signed by public defenders, faith leaders, grassroots organizations, and civil rights groups, including chapters of Black Lives Matter, the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services, JustLeadershipUSA, MomsRising, New York Immigration Coalition, New York County Defender Services and the New York City Legal Aid Society.
Cuomo senior adviser Richard Azzopardi said the administration will review the letter.
“Building on this administration’s solid record of comprehensive criminal justice reform is a priority this session, specifically ending cash bail and enacting landmark discovery and speedy trial reforms,” Azzopardi said.
The state Legislature is readying its own criminal justice package that could be voted on as early as next week.