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BAIL REFORM State laws look quite unneighborly

It’s bad enough that bail statutes in New York state aren’t keeping New York residents safe.

But it’s ludicrous that Pennsylvania residents are dealing with the repercussions of New York’s shoddily written, oft-defended and utterly useless bail reform laws.

Late last week, a Jamestown man was taken to the Warren County Jail on charges of robbery, a firearms violation, simple assault, two counts of possession of controlled substances, two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, and theft after a woman called police saying she had been robbed. Police quickly found the man, who it turns out had also been accused of using a gun to threaten a man in Conewango, Pa., on Nov. 30. The same man had been charged with third-degree robbery after walking up to a kiosk in the Chautauqua Mall, saying he had a bomb and demanding money from the kiosk employee. But, a charge of third-degree robbery meant all local judges could do was release the man on his own recognizance rather than require him to post bail or be taken to the Chautauqua County Jail.

“This guy should not have been released and should not have had the opportunity to commit the robbery today,” Capt. Jeff Dougherty of the Warren County Police told the Warren Times Observer. “This robbery was completely preventable.”

Dougherty is right. There was no reason for there to be a public safety issue in Warren County from this particular person. Anyone who would threaten having a bomb during a robbery is showing a propensity to use violence and should be either locked up until bail is posted or sent for a psychiatric evaluation. That’s not what New York’s system does, though.

In Pennsylvania, however, bail was set at $500,000 on the robbery docket and $250,000 on the threats docket. That’s the way things should work. Are you paying attention, Gov. Kathy Hochul?

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