Top NYS judge calls for change to criminal justice reforms


ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York’s top judge delivered the 2020 State of Our Judiciary Address on Wednesday and covered several topics, including criminal justice reform.

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore spoke at length about New York’s recently enacted criminal justice and bail reform. She spoke of the good and the bad.

She said minority populations have been negatively impacted by the longtime cash bail system. She said eliminating cash bail almost entirely for low level, non-violent offenses was a good move, but as with any kind of sweeping change, things are never perfect right out of the gate.

“History has taught us that any time responsible leaders undertake enormous change, and certainly, consequences that were never intended,” she said.

Bail reform has led to daily criticism from republicans and democrats as well as prosecutors and law enforcement, who said the reforms force judges to release possibly dangerous, repeat offenders. DiFiore said judges should have discretion.

“I believe, that without compromising the purity of its purpose, allowing judges after a full and fair adversarial hearing, in those few and extraordinary cases where such a credible threat exists,” she said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said again on Tuesday that any changes made will likely be included in this year’s budget, which is supposed to be ready by April 1.

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