New York lawmakers are poised to approve legislation that would expand the criminal charges that would qualify for cash bail — altering a measure that was approved in the previous year's budget.
The provision will qualify charges for offenses like sex trafficking, second-degree burglary, aggravated vehicular assault, money laundering charges, and child pornography.
Lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year agreed to end cash bail for misdemeanors and felonies that are considered to be non-violent.
Additional charges that will qualify for bail include second-degree strangulation, unlawful imprisonment and any crime that is alleged to have caused the death of another person.
But law enforcement officials and Republicans over the last year pushed back against the changes, ratcheting up political pressure over the changes and the lack of a judicial discretion component in the legislation. Democratic lawmakers, especially those from upstate and suburban districts, felt spurred to act, and several pledged to not vote for a spending plan without changes to the law.
Supporters of the existing bail law countered the efforts to turn back the law were based on sensationalized and anecdotal stories.
The measure was sought as part of a package of criminal justice law changes that are meant to keep people from languishing in local jails.
In the last month, criminal justice advocates pointed to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic as evidence of a need to reduce people in jail, where the virus can spread.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie this year had opposed making changes to the existing law, but in recent weeks had temporized his remarks, saying any changes would be based on data.