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Politics and Government

Katko legislation would change New York's bail reform law, but not scrap it

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Ellen Abbott
/
WRVO News
Rep. John Katko speaks at a news conference where he introduced legislation to change New York's bail reform law. Standing next to Katko is the family of Connie Touri, who was killed in her Syracuse apartment by a woman who had been released on bail soon before killing Touri.

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) introduced legislation this week he says will blunt the negative consequences of New York’s controversial bail reform law, without gutting it.

Bail reform went into effect last year, eliminating cash bail and expanding pre-trial release for some misdemeanors and felony charges. Since then local law enforcement officials have complained that it’s led to an increase in crime. That’s the idea behind Katko’s Stop Enabling Repeat Violence and Endangering (SERVE) our Communities Act.

"We provide grant money to states to engage in anti-recidivism conduct, for states that have a component in their law, which considers the dangerousness of an individual when they’re deciding to release them pending trial,” said Katko.

This doesn’t get rid of bail reform, according to Katko, but gives more power to judges to consider this dangerousness concept when considering bail.

“If you don’t want bail for certain things, that’s fine,” he said. “But just tell us if there is someone who is very dangerous, and if you feel compelled you have to let him out because of bail reform, you can consider someone who is very dangerous to protect the community. That’s all its doing.”

Guy Tuori stood by Katko during the announcement of the legislation this week in Syracuse. Tuori’s aunt, Connie, was killed in her Syracuse apartment early this year. Her accused killer, Victoria Afet, had an extensive and violent criminal record, and was released from jail without bail shortly before Tuori was killed.

"Myself, my family, my two brothers and sisters not here today, believe strongly that if that review of her case had gone differently, if the district attorney had different options to keep her off the street, then our aunt would be here today,” Tuori said.

Katko says he has bipartisan support for the legislation.