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Albany lawmawkers getting ready to overhaul bail reform laws

New York lawmakers getting ready to overhaul bail reform laws 03:01

ALBANY. N.Y. -- Lawmakers is Albany are getting ready to overhaul bail reform laws.

They want to make it easier to hold repeat offenders and to set bail for a larger number of crimes, but CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer says the proposed changes face some pushback.

More jail doors will be closing on those charged with gun crimes, hate crimes and repeat offenders as the legislature gets set to vote on a bail reform package that, sources say, will also clarify the discretion judges have to set cash bail.

The overhaul, which top lawmakers said was unthinkable just a few weeks ago, is expected to be voted by the end of the week as part of the new state budget.

Sources tell CBS2 a major element in the tentative deal worked out by Gov. Kathy Hochul with lawmakers are new rules for dealing with mentally ill defendants, allowing judges to voluntarily or involuntarily send them for psychiatric evaluation and treatment.

Sources say there will also be funds for new psychiatric beds and new Safe Haven beds. Former governor Andrew Cuomo closed 600 beds in New York City over the past several years.

"I absolutely am in favor of devoting more funds in the budget for mental health ... with respect to its connection with crime," said Jeffrey Cohen, who retired last year as a judge in the appellate division in Brooklyn.

"Will it help dealing with the rising crime that we've been seeing?" Kramer asked.

"It should," Cohen said.

The most controversial changes in the 2019 law have to do with increasing the number offenses for which judges can set bail.

Sources say the bill is expected to allow judges to set bail for more hate crimes, certain repeat offenders and more gun cases. Additionally, to be charged with gun trafficking, a person would reportedly need to have only two guns, instead of five, sources say.

Brooklyn Assemblywoman Latrice Walker, who's been on a hunger strike to prevent the changes, issued a statement saying: "These proposals would roll back progress the state has made towards ending the criminalization of poverty and do nothing to advance public safety."

One thing not included in the overhaul is a proposal made by both the governor and Mayor Eric Adams to allow judges to consider "dangerousness" in setting bail.

Suffolk County state Sen. Phil Boyle says he doesn't understand it since 49 other states have "dangerousness" laws.

"I think Governor Kathy Hochul can lose her reelection based on this issue alone because all of the Republicans in the state, a lot of the Independents in the state and many Democrats feel that this bail reform law must be completely repealed," he said.

Boyle points out that a red wave swept the state last year with Republicans using bail reform to oust a number of Democrats.

Republicans took over the Nassau and Suffolk county district attorney offices and Republican Bruce Blakeman became the Nassau County executive

Sources tell CBS2 the final touches are being put on the bill, which could be voted on by Friday.

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