To the Editor:
The intent of New York’s bail reform law was good: to make the pretrial process equal for all and free from bias; however, the reform bill passed in 2019 had flaws.
Although I fully agree that the enacted law needs reform, we cannot return to a system that allows for punishment before a conviction. At the same time, our system must be sufficiently flexible to ensure violent criminals are not allowed back onto our streets. Bail reform was long overdue, and the New York Legislature rightly followed the lead of neighboring states to enact changes to the system.
Thankfully, some legislators heard the call to amend the enacted law in 2020; these amendments include lengthening the discovery period, allowing more judicial consideration and applying bail to repeat offenders even for offenses that otherwise would not require bail. These amendments were steps in the right direction because they responded directly to the concerns of citizens and law enforcement, and they did not give up any rights of citizens.
We have the right to the presumption of innocence, and justice reform is about protecting that right and our communities at the same time. Our justice system has never been perfect, but I will work to take every possible step to get there.
I will also seek the funding our local agencies need to enact change. We do not need another unfunded mandate in Upstate New York, especially now when budgets are being squeezed due to COVID-19.
As an elected official, and representative, I will continue to seek ways to protect our rights and our communities.
Dan Buttermann, candidate for Assembly