To the editor:
There has been a lot of noise from the right regarding the topic of bail reform, most of it either misleading or ill-informed. I wanted to take an opportunity to correct some misconceptions, as well as to support one point on which the Republican pundits are correct.
Bail is meant to mitigate flight risk, not to keep people in jail between conviction and trial. It’s been used for decades to deny due process and keep alleged perpetrators in prison indefinitely, and without trial.
Remand is meant for individuals or recidivists, who are objectively judged to be dangerous. This process must take place via an adversarial procedure where prosecutors must prove a defendant’s danger to the public — not where defendants must prove they’re NOT — and the need for remand to custody.
Although the bail reform provisions enacted by the Legislature and Governor Cuomo are good, the adversarial process for remand has been completely hobbled. We’ve seen numerous cases in the news recently where armed robbers and drunk drivers were released, only to commit their crimes again, often with disastrous results. Prosecutors and law enforcement need this process back in their toolbox, and quickly.
We call on Democratic representatives in the Assembly and Senate and Governor Cuomo to revisit and reinstate the remand process for certain crimes by amending their bail reform provisions as soon as possible.
We would also like to remind Republican pundits of citizens’ Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process, and their Sixth Amendment right to innocence until the state proves guilt. We call on Republican politicians, law enforcement and prosecutors to stop churning out poorly written opinion pieces that conflate the removal of bail for lesser, non-violent crimes with the need to remand, and to stop using bail as a means for jailing citizens indefinitely.
Cody Anderson, Chair
Columbia County Libertarian Party