New York’s Efforts to Reform their Criminal Justice System

New York’s Efforts to Reform their Criminal Justice System

Written By: Kylee Palfy

New York’s continuous efforts to reform their criminal justice system comes in the following FY 2020 Enacted Budget. With a lot of ideas being thrown around it is hard to keep straight.  These changes listed below are expected to go into effect and impact our justice system completely.

Reforms Made to Money Bail and Arrest Procedures: New York’s goal is to reduce pretrial incarceration; these measures will go into effect in January 2020. New York will drastically alter their approach to bail. Money bail is eliminated for misdemeanors and non- violent felonies, with exceptions to sex offense misdemeanors and violating an order of protection in a domestic violence case. Judges have to consider the defendants financial resources when a bail must be set. Police officers will now be required to issue a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) regarding most misdemeanors and Class E felonies. DAT’s will be in place of making an arrest and taking the individual into custody in hopes to achieve New York’s goal of significantly reducing the number of people held in jail prior to one’s trial. This combination estimates 90% of cases who are not yet convicted will remain out of jail before their court date.

Right to a Speedy Trial: Although this is engrained in the US Constitution and state laws, a trial often leads to extended time in custody caused by its drawn-out process. New York wants to ensure a speedy turnaround time to avoid negative impact on people’s lives who have not yet been found guilty. It is estimated 2/3 of people in local jails across New York are only detained because they are waiting for their day in court. The legislation in FY 2020 Enacted Budget increases the court’s accountability by avoiding unnecessary delays and optimizing preparedness.

Changes in the Discovery Process: Both prosecutors and defendants will be required to share all information in their power prior to the trial. Defendants will be given the chance to review all evidence before pleading guilty. Prosecutors are responsible for providing such materials 15 days in advance. Intimidation and coercion protections will also be utilized for the safety of the witnesses, victims and judicial process.

The FY 2020 Enacted Budget is only the very tip of changes New York is aiming to make to their criminal justice system.  They will set an example the rest of the nation can witness.