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Assembly Proposes Pretrial Detention

Those accused of crimes involving a firearm or a weapon should be eligible to be sent to jail rather than be released under the state’s bail reform statutes.

Assemblyman Charles Lavine, D-Glen Cove, has introduced A.6737, which would amend the list of bail-eligible in the state Criminal Procedure Law.

The state’s April 2019 bail reform legislation included nine categories of charges — overwhelmingly felonies — that allowed judges to set bail. Amendments in 2020 added several categories of crimes to the bail-eligible list, but Lavine wrote that crimes committed with a firearm or weapon should be further added to the list. Some misdemeanors are eligible for bail, but none include being sent directly to jail for pretrial detention.

“Unfortunately, while the 2020 amendments did add criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds as a nonviolent felony eligible for remand, language including any felony offenses involving the criminal possession of a firearm or weapon were not included as qualifying offenses eligible for remand,” Lavine wrote in his legislative justification. “The data presents a situation that requires legislative initiative while emboldening the need to include any felony offenses, that involve criminal possession of a firearm or weapon, to be deemed a qualifying felony eligible for remand.”

There are currently no co-sponsors for Lavine’s legislation, which was introduced Monday. There is also no corresponding legislation in the state Senate.

It’s unclear if bail reform has actually led to an increase in gun violence in New York state. A New York Post analysis of New York City Police Department statistics showed most people released under criminal justice reforms or as part of the response to COVID-19 had no known ties to the 46% increase seen in shootings in the city through June 30, 2020.

In December, Buffalo Police Capt. Jeff Rinaldo told WKBW the Buffalo Police Department has arrested people with guns who were almost immediately released from jail, while Buffalo Police Benevolent Association President John Evans told the television station that more changes are needed to bail reform to address gun violence.

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