© 2023 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

'Insane': Onondaga County DA disagrees with bail reform changes in state budget

The New York State Capitol building.
The New York State Capitol building.

Gov. Kathy Hochul is talking up the bail reform changes that were part of the recently passed New York State budget. Hochul, on a post-budget swing through the state, said she’s happy with the changes, and believes the changes will mean safer streets.

"It removes what is known as the least restrictive means standard, which judges have said ties their hands," Hochul said. "It now gives them discretion if they need to hold violent criminals accountable, and upholds our fundamental belief in a criminal justice system that is fair and accessible to all.”

Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick disagrees. He said it only gives judges a little more wiggle room when it comes to imposing bail.

"They have slightly more discretion on a repeat offender," Fitzpatrick said. "Why not? How could they not? But you still have an opportunity for instances like Victoria Afet. Five pending felonies and she’s let out legally, with no bail at all."

Earlier this year, Afet admitted to the torture and killing of a 93-year-old woman in Syracuse, after being released from custody. Fitzpatrick is among prosecutors across the state who believes judges should be able to take into account repetitive criminal conduct, or dangerousness when setting bail.

“It’s hard to imagine that New York is out of step with 49 other states in not allowing judges to consider repetitive criminal conduct or dangerousness of the offender when setting bail," Fitzpatrick said.

And he’s worried about the next round of criminal justice reforms he expects to come out of Albany, citing two other notorious murder cases in Syracuse.

"I can’t wait to see Bill Blake back into the community because of compassionate parole," Fitzpatrick said. "How 'bout that everybody, doesn’t that sound great? Or how about Jeff Cahill, sentenced to death, properly so, would be eligible for compassionate parole. And they’re going to pass this statute. That’s how insane these people are. Insane."

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.