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Pump the brakes: Law enforcement officials worried about new reforms

Thomas O'Neil-White

New criminal justice reforms are set to take affect at the start of the New Year, but law enforcement officials across Western New York say the rush to push reforms through will create a public safety problem.

Speaking in front of supporters and protestors Thursday morning at Clarence Town Courthouse, officials said the new bail system will keep violent criminals on the street.

But reform supporters, like Desmond Abrams, was not buying it.

“The reality is like 70% of people in the Holding (Center) and Alden are actually there for non-violent offenses,” Abrams said.

Abrams is an organizer for Just Resisting Buffalo, a local reform advocacy group. He said law enforcement officials want a year-long moratorium for the new laws so they can share their input. Abrams said their time is up.

Credit Thomas O'Neil-White
Desmond Abrams

“We already won. They’re the ones who are sitting up here trying to say ‘we need to hold back, we need more time, we need a moratorium. We need to look at this and that,’” he said. “They’re the ones who said that this was just dropped on their lap out of nowhere. But a few minutes later, no one questions the fact that they said ‘well we’ve been fighting this since January.’”

As it stands, new laws affecting cash bail and discovery will start on the first day of the new year.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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