Long Island officials to suggest tweaks to bail reform

A group of Long Island's local leaders and members of law enforcement have teamed up for what they are calling a "commonsense coalition" with the goal to deliver suggested changes on the state's new bail reform law to Albany lawmakers.

"This is an agenda that's been set and has been followed and here we are suffering the consequences," said Kevin Black, the president of Nassau Superior Officers Association.

Under the new legislation, defendants arrested for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies can no longer be held on bail. However, the coalition believes judges should have discretion as they have in other states that have implemented similar laws.


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"You don't want to see someone in jail for six months or a year on $250 bail, that's absurd," said Brian Sullivan, the president of the Nassau Corrections Officers Benevolent Association. "But you also don't want to see someone walking out of jail that was in for a vicious assault on a child or selling opiates all over Long Island."

The coalition also hopes to amend newly implemented deadlines for prosecutors to share evidence.

But Khalil Cumberbatch, who spent time in jail himself and now advocates for reform, said it is too early to evaluate the effectiveness of the reform. He said the old way was unfair especially for defendants who struggled financially.

"It puts them at risk for unstable housing, it puts them at risk for losing employment, losing familial ties particularly if that person is a parent to a child," Cumberbatch said. "All are factors to make a person less stable and make them more likely to commit crimes."

The coalition hopes to come up with a list of recommendations within the week and vows to fight until amendments are made.