January 30, 2018: New York State Bar Association Adopts Bail Reform Proposal

The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) approved a measure that supports elimination of cash bail for those facing misdemeanor or non-violent felony charges in New York State and also calls for training of judges, court personnel and lawyers to better understand the alternatives to cash bail. The resolution was approved during the Association’s January 26 House of Delegates meeting in New York City.

“Cash bail puts an unfair burden on the economically disadvantaged, because those who cannot pay bail are forced to remain behind bars as pre-trial defendants for extended periods of time. They cannot work or attend school and they are indefinitely separated from their families,” said State Bar President Sharon Stern Gerstman of Buffalo (Magavern Magavern Grimm).  “The fundamental principles of our justice system include not only the presumption of innocence, but that we do not presume that an individual is a threat to society until and unless he or she has been convicted of a crime.”

With more than 60 percent of people in New York State jails in 2016 considered ‘pre-trial defendants,’ Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his 2018 State of the State message in early January, advanced a bail reform package including the elimination of cash bail.

Many courts rely solely on cash bail or insurance company bonds to secure a defendant’s future appearances, despite the availability of alternatives set forth in the Criminal Procedure Law (CPL).

The NYSBA resolution was presented by the State Bar’s Criminal Justice Section, chaired by Tucker Stanclift of Queensbury (Stanclift Law). The measure also calls for supervised release as a recognized form of release on recognizance, and for amending the CPL to provide that a court may not impose financial conditions on a defendant unless the defendant is charged with a violent crime or there is a risk the defendant will not appear in court. In addition, it calls for amending the CPL with respect to the valuing of posted real estate.

About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, the Association has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.

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Contact: Christina Couto
Editor, State Bar News
ccouto@nysba.org
518-487-5535