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Gallivan calls for reforms to new bail laws

Thomas O'Neil-White

Less than two weeks after new bail laws took effect in New York, politicians, law enforcement agencies and victim advocacy groups say the laws are a threat to public safety.

Speaking with the press Friday, State Senator Patrick Gallivan opposed the bill when it was voted on last year.

Gallivan said 10 days into the New Year is proving the reforms already need to be reassessed.

“What we have seen now across the state,” he said. “Is a litany of offenders being arrested, being fingerprinted, processed, issued appearance tickets, only to go out and reoffend again.”

Other states such as New Jersey eliminated cash bail in recent years, but Gallivan said the difference between the two states is New Jersey has a tool to assess the risk an individual poses to their community and to their risk of flight when they are arrested.  

Gallivan is introducing legislation at the beginning of next week which would allow for more judicial discretion in bail matters and the development of a risk assessment tool with which the judges refer to.

He cited the fact Democratic leaders, both locally and throughout the state, have said the new laws need to be tweaked as reason why action needs to be taken now.

“Yesterday the Democratic District Attorney called for this to be reformed,” Gallivan said. “Two days ago, I believe, the full Democratic Common Council of the City of Buffalo called for this to be reformed. The Attorney General of New York State called for reforms. While the Governor was silent in his State of the State, he has said changes need to be made.”

He believes with bipartisan support his legislation can be put to a vote. However, Gallivan was vague on the cost of implementing an assessment tool but said with majority support, the burden of cost shouldn’t fall on the backs of taxpayers.

Gallivan launched a petition calling on lawmakers to reform the laws. The petition can be found on his website.

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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