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The local cost of state crime reform mandates uncertain, but certainly not cheap

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Erie County Probation Department
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Albany made major changes in New York's criminal law in the last legislative session and those changes are slowly working into place. However, the cost of the changes is not yet clear.

The numbers are not clear because there are so many variables.

For example, if someone is arrested but given an appearance ticket, that means the person will not go to a lockup and run up that cost. At the same time, the Probation Department may well have to be expanded to monitor that person awaiting trial. The District Attorney's office still has to prosecute and that means more people for new paperwork, around a dozen for Erie County and at least two in Chautauqua County.

In his budget proposal, Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello was critical of Albany changing the law but not paying for it.
     
"Our county law enforcement officials are responsible for bringing them in for trial. Sheriff Jim Quattrone has stated that he will need a 'warrant squad' to accomplish that requirement. That will heavily burden law enforcement and the taxpayers," Borrello said. "In addition to cashless bail, the new unrealistic rules for discovery, which is information that must be turned over in court cases, will strain our District Attorney's Office, Sheriff's Office and Probation Department."

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Republican Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello (l) is up against Democrat Austin Morgan for the 57th State Senate District seat.

The Republican budget calls for adding $100,000 to his DA budget.

Erie County DA John Flynn said the dozen new people he is looking for will cost $1.2 million. That is drawing very vocal attacks from the Minority Caucus in the Erie County Legislature.

"It's going to start adding up," said Minority Leader Joseph Lorigo. "When the DA came to the legislature seeking funding for the remainder of the year, it was a only a couple of hundred-thousand dollars, not the full $1.2 million and they had already had that money available in their budget based on savings on things that they did not spend in 2019. But going forward, we're going to have to figure it out and so is the sheriff and so is probation."

When Erie County Executive Poloncarz presents his budget Oct. 15, it may have some hard numbers on overall cost of the state legal changes.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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