Criminal justice reforms have law enforcement scrambling to find fugitives

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BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – With the passage of the 2019-20 New York State Budget early last week, some dangerous changes have been made to the state’s criminal justice system.

Some of these changes are troubling to me and the state’s sheriffs and law enforcement officials, in particular, the changes to cash bail and the potential closure of three state correctional facilities. 
 
Personally, I have been contacted by sheriffs and law enforcement officials right here in the Southern Tier who have voiced opposition to the changes. Their fear is that the elimination of cash bail for most misdemeanors and non-violent felonies will have them scrambling to find criminals who are arrested, released and then fail to show up to court. This will take time and resources away from their patrol duties and will negatively affect our communities. New requirements and Use of Force Policies also have raised some concerns, tying our local law enforcement officers’ hands by requiring them to establish Use of Force Policies and report certain incidents, such as an officer drawing or touching their firearm during a traffic stop or disturbance. 
 
This year’s budget also continues the governor and Assembly Majority’s soft-on-crime agenda, making changes to how officers will deal with Class E felonies, misdemeanors, violations and infractions, making them issue appearance tickets as opposed to making an arrest. The new policies will remove impediments to post-release licensing and employment, eliminate mandatory driver’s license suspension for certain drug offenses and eliminate the release of mugshots in most cases.
 
The potential closure of three prisons in New York has also raised some eyebrows. By law the governor has to give 12-months notice of a prison closure, this year’s budget authorizes him to close up to three prisons in New York at only 90 days notice. As of right now no prisons have been named, but the potential closures could have dire implications on upstate economies and communities. 
 
All in all this year’s budget once again shows the progressive, pro-criminal, soft-on-crime agenda the governor and Assembly Majority have been pushing over the last two years. Unfortunately, it appears that this trend will continue in the same direction. Know that I will continue to fight back against these dangerous precedents and continue to work to keep our communities in the Southern Tier safe.   
 

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