The complicated debate caused by Governor Kathy Hochul’s proposal to include in the fiscal year 2024 budget technical modifications in the New York Bail Reform Law led a group of legislators to visit the Rikers Island jail on Thursday , to check on-site the conditions of the prison population.
This inspection of the largest prison in New York was an opportunity for eight assembly members, who are radically opposed to changing “one letter” of the controversial criminal justice reform, to once again repudiate the modifications proposed by the president. An issue that keeps the approval of the state budget blocked.
“We’ll have blood on our hands if we allow these changes to be implemented in our New York State budget,” said Queens Assemblyman Zohran Mamdani.
The group of assembly members and senators stated, after the surprise visit, that “it was difficult to conclude” if the conditions in the prison where they died three dozen people in the last two years have improved in the last few months.
But they made it clear that if any change in the reform goes ahead, they have no doubts that will substantially increase the number of New Yorkers held on bond.
In addition, they were sure that the modifications proposed by Hochul will aggravate the “hellish conditions” in which the detainees live and prison staff.
“They showed us a pretty face of new arcades with video games. But even in that same place, people incarcerated say that when they return to their residences there is garbage, mice and deplorable conditions”, Mandani stressed to local media.
Advocates of bail law reform claim that a defendant it can take years of imprisonment before a jury decides whether you are guilty or not guilty.
According to a recent report, a detainee spends an average of 115 days within Rikers Island, a number that is almost twice as large as eight years ago and is four times the national average.
In this sense, the Assemblywoman Marcela Mitaynes questioned that Governor Hochul instead of promoting laws that would create health insurance coverage for alltries to reinforce the idea of mass incarceration.
“We have just heard from hundreds of people who are behind bars, simply because they are poor. There are no programs for them. They are traumatizing a population, which has not even been found guilty. What we have just seen and heard is terrible. It is not possible to think of changes in the bail law,” said the Peruvian legislator, representative of SunSet Park in Brooklyn.
“It is still terrible, but there are changes”
But at the center of this controversy, in the first major report on Rikers Island since last fall, the federal team overseeing the prison complex concludes that while conditions remain “terrible,” the improvements have begun to take root very slowly.
“Prison confinement conditions can be described as being in a state of flux. They begin to gradually move from one deep dysfunction towards the beginnings of improved management”, said the monitor, Steve J. Martin, it’s a statement.
Among some of the most troubling revelations detailed in the monitor’s report is the lack of discipline measures, Issued to Correctional Officers Accused of Misconducta metric that has begun to trend “in the wrong direction in recent months.”
Lack of discipline occurs when incidents of use of force continue to be widespreadreinforced the monitor.
Hochul draws new cards
The fight over the bail change has delayed the passage of the New York State fiscal budget, It was due on April 1. It is now not expected to be approved until at least next week.
At this point, neither the Democratic majority of the State Assembly, nor the governor, show signs of giving their “arm to twist.”
The plan to give the judges a greater margin of maneuver to set bonds, is one of the key issues stalling the negotiations on this budget.
In fact, in the last hours, the governor who is defending her proposal tooth and nail, is taking out new cards showing high profile criminal cases.
For example, he noted that a New York City man accused of strangling his 15-year-old stepson to death, was arrested on state probation violations Thursday, a day after a Bronx judge released him without bail.
Tyresse Minter, 28, was taken into custody after the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision issued an arrest warrant for him, according to the president.
Hochul, announced the arrest of Minter through a statement official issued by your office.
“My top priority is public safety. Earlier today, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision issued an arrest warrant for Tyresse Minter, and he is now in custody”.
Minter, who now faces criminally negligent manslaughter and manslaughter charges, allegedly strangled his stepson.
In the background
The reform of the finance law eliminated from January 2020 the cash guarantee for most misdemeanors and non-violent felonies.
In summary, it was achieved that judges consider the ability to pay of a person in cases where a bond is established. The goal was to reduce prior incarceration to the trial that disproportionately affects the Black and Latino communities.
But how specifically does the governor want to change the bail laws this year?
For bail-eligible cases, Hochul proposed in his budget plan to remove a measure in the law that requires judges, at arraignment, impose the “least restrictive” means to ensure that the defendant returns to court.
The president believes that her plan will clear up the confusion in this reform, particularly by removing a clause that requires judges to impose the “least restrictive” conditions of release, to ensure that a defendant appears in court. In his opinion this has been interpreted differently by judges throughout the state.
Everything indicates that the Democratic majority of the State Assemblyis not willing to give an inch, in the intention of the governor.
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