Agencies Need To Collaborate For The Criminal Justice System

Regardless of how one feels about New York state’s efforts at bail reform, the changes are coming.

It’s good to see, then, that Community Justice Coordinating Council members are thinking about more than just bail reform’s impact on the Chautauqua County Jail. With as much as 80 percent of the county’s court appearances eligible for presumptive release under the state’s bail reform changes, the jail won’t run into the overcrowding issues it had seen in the past.

Jail overcrowding was one of the biggest reasons the council began meeting again several years ago. Rather than let the council fade away, members have chosen instead to focus on being proactive and figure out how best to serve the community once the new bail reforms take effect.

Council members agree there should be a focus on re-entry programs for inmates going back into society, decreasing recidivism rates and better managing those who are involved in the legal system. All of those are important problems that need to be resolved.

We would also suggest there should be discussion of protecting public safety as people who used to be in jail are now released into society as their case makes its way through the court system. While those charged with serious crimes can still be subject to bail, there are often many who either make bail or who are released on their own recognizance who reoffend while waiting for their court date — particularly in drug cases. The last thing anyone wants is someone to be released two or three times and then finally commit a crime serious enough to warrant bail.

We have a feeling that is one of the things Sheriff James Quattrone was referring to when he mentioned the council should focus on the entire criminal justice system as it moves forward and not just the jail population. Protecting public safety in such circumstances requires collaboration among all of the agencies that play a part in the criminal justice system — which makes the Community Justice Coordinating Council a perfect place to have these discussions.

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