New York should eliminate cash bail, Senate Democrats say

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York state would eliminate the long-standing practice of requiring criminal defendants to post cash bail under a new proposal from Democratic lawmakers.

(Office of Michael Gianaris)

Democratic Sen. Michael Gianaris of Queens said Tuesday that his proposal would reduce prison populations while also addressing the unfairness of allowing suspects with financial resources to go free while others must wait in prison for their trial.

Suspects accused of violent crimes and who are considered a danger to others would still be detained. Other suspects could be placed in community supervision while they await trial.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing his own proposal to end cash bail in misdemeanor and non-violent felony cases.

Cuomo is proposing instead to release those defendants on their own recognizance or require them to check in with officials.

“For too long, our antiquated criminal justice system has created a two-tiered system where outcomes depend purely on economic status – undermining the bedrock principle that one is innocent until proven guilty,” Cuomo previously said.

Under his proposal, violent offenders may also be eligible for non-monetary bail if a judge reviewed the case and the defendant’s personal and financial circumstances.

“The Empire State has always served as a beacon of equality and social justice, and with these actions New York is once again showing the nation the way forward,” Cuomo said.

PIX11 contributed to this report.