NEW YORK STATE: Bail reform needs to happen

Earlier this month, there were five people booked into the Chautauqua County Jail on misdemeanor charges who have been unable to post bail amounts of less than $1,000.

These are five people who aren’t likely to commit serious offenses while they await their court date and are the very people Gov. Andrew Cuomo and proponents of bail reform want to help. Helping people like the five we reference is absolutely something the state must do — holding people on $500 or $750 bail seems harsh, particularly if they had jobs or family for whom they are responsible.

Bail reform has been slow to move forward, however, and another Chautauqua County case is indicative of the reasons why. A search warrant issued as part of a drug trafficking investigation resulted in drug possession and drug use charges against four people, one of whom had been charged less than a month ago as part of a federal investigation into cocaine and methamphetamine sales.

A second warrant executed the same day resulted in drugs and weapons charges against a Jamestown man who previously faced felony weapons charges in October.

Such situations are frustrating for police officers and the public who see many of the same people charged for similar crimes over and over again.

Bail reform for those who are in jail because they don’t have an extra $500 for bail should happen, but it isn’t likely to happen until there is a way to better protect the public from those who are arrested, post bail and then continue both breaking the law and putting the public at risk. Bail reform should not be an automatic get out of jail free card, particularly for those who show a proclivity for breaking the law.