There is a huge lapse in the bail reform law in New York.
Case in point: A Greene County man was arrested on child pornography charges last week for the second time in a year. Jason M. Carter, 35, of Catskill was charged with possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child under 16 years old, a class E felony; and promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child under 17 years old, a class D felony.
Carter was arraigned in Catskill Town Court before Justice William Jacobs and was sent to the Greene County Jail, where he was held on $5,000 bail.
It’s worth noting that Carter was arrested on similar charges in July 2020, when he lived in Cairo, after police found images of children performing sexual acts on his cellphone.
State police charged Carter with two counts of possession of an obscene sexual performance by a child and three counts of possession of a sexual performance by a child, both class E felonies. But that time, he was released without bail.
Setting free an accused child predator without bail may uphold the letter of the state law, but the action corrodes its spirit. What parent out there would not have major concerns about allowing this man to walk free?
We support reforms that ensure accountability in the criminal justice system and that provide income equity — poor people arrested for a minor crime should not sit in jail until trial while people who have the funds can be free once the money is paid.
The difference in Jason Carter’s case is that his alleged offenses last Friday harmed other individuals. We are pleased that Jacobs ordered Carter held on $5,000 bail, but that is a relatively low amount. Scraping together bail would be tough, but not impossible.
We don’t support legislating the judicial branch, but we need a system that allows judges to use discretion to order restrictive bail for a defendant so as to protect public safety. In our opinion, the current New York bail laws need to be amended with common sense.