In this year's State of the State address, Governor Cuomo promised to reassess and reform New York's criminal justice system. Republican lawmakers are now taking a closer look at some of the governor's big goals. Nick Reisman reports.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to make changes to the criminal justice system that includes creating a system of cashless bail, more state oversight of local jails and speedier trials.
“Race and wealth should not be factors in our justice system,” Cuomo said.
Some Republicans lawmakers in the Senate have questions over how a cashless system would work and which defendants would be released pending trial.
“There may be other charges that are out there and other charges that indicate a potential flight risk. So you have to look at the details,” said Senator John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse.
Senator Pat Gallivan on Monday questioned whether the state Legislature even needs to act on bail, given judicial discretion.
“Judges in almost all cases are authorized to release people on their own recognizance. Perhaps in that particular case, maybe more training for judges, maybe the OCA could deal with that directly to make sure the people who are held on bail need to be truly held on bail,” said Senator Pat Gallivan, R-Elma.
Gallivan also doubts whether lawmakers need to act on strengthening oversight of local jails, saying such power exists now at the state level.
“Under current law the state Department of Correction has tremendous authority to oversee all correctional facilities, including local ones,” said Gallivan.
Criminal justice measures in Albany typically take time. The push to raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York took several legislative sessions before it became law. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says the raise the age campaign was part of a broader effort of criminal justice measures.
“Last year when we did raise the age, it was the beginning of criminal justice reform and I think we will continue to do that,” Heastie said.
More details are expected on Cuomo's proposals in the coming weeks.