Friend: NY Must Fund Its Corrections, Law Enforcement To Manage Bail Reform Pressures

February 12, 2020

Following a Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Public Safety, Assemblyman Christopher S. Friend (R,C,I-Big Flats) is again calling on his legislative colleagues to provide additional funding to the corrections system and law enforcement following challenges from the problematic bail reform law.

“New York’s public safety has been severely compromised by the bail reform law enacted by progressive Senate and Assembly Majority, which is why our state must more thoroughly invest in our public safety institutions such as corrections and law enforcement,” said Friend. “The governor has made it very clear over the years that he does not support the men and women working in our corrections facilities and that he will throw every challenge possible to make the jobs of our law enforcement all the more difficult. I encourage my legislative colleagues to stand against this trend and put the safety of our communities first.”

Among Friend’s chief concerns was a provision the governor included in the budget proposal which circumvents a law requiring a 12-month notification before the closure of any state prison. The budget proposal shortens the requirement to only three months, and did not outline a number of closures, targeted prisons or general timeline of when such closures will be announced, essentially giving the governor the power to close prisons at his will. Corrections officers have reported to the assemblyman that there has been increased violence and drugs in the prisons. The assemblyman supports funding be provided to centralize package scanning of incoming mail, adding more drug-sniffing dogs and increasing of beds to end the practice of double bunking which poses a danger to both officers and inmates.

Friend is also pushing for increased support for local law enforcement. Since the enactment of the new bail reform law, there were about 100 cases reported by the media of violent crimes occurring and serial criminals arrested only to be released shortly after because of the bail law. In some cases, individuals were arrested repeatedly over just a few days for different crimes because they could not be held in pre-trial detention. Individuals have committed hate crimes, assaults, acts of domestic violence and have killed others in drunken driving incidents, and still were released according to the bail reform law. The additional pressures of repeat criminal offenders and needed increase of policing to keep communities safe require additional financial support from the state.

Friend contends that the bail reform law must be reversed. He has introduced A.8855, a bill that would repeal the law entirely.