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Baby Black Bear by Chuck Wiser

“Bail Reform Disgrace,” draws sharp rebuke from former Allegany County public defender

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“…..sensationalist politically motivated propaganda”

I am appalled at your “ new regular feature” entitled “Bail Reform Disgrace”. You make the unsupported statement that bail reform “ has caused a large increase in crime”; yet you cite no evidence. We hear that claim often, but never with any statistical support. To reach that conclusion, there would need to be analysis that examined rearrest data from statistically matched samples. Such studies are currently being undertaken in NYS; but to conclude that changes to the bail law have caused “ a large increase in crime” is at best anecdotal, and at worst sensationalist politically motivated propaganda.

Bail reform was undertaken to reduce the incarceration of PRESUMPTIVELY INNOCENT individuals before they have been convicted of a crime. The anti-reform narrative ignores the fact that people of means are almost always free pre-trial. Reform is necessary to address documented racial disparities and abuse of discretion in pre trial detention.

I represented criminal defendants in Allegany County for over 30 years. I have countless examples (admittedly anecdotal) where bail was a clear abuse of discretion on the part of the local justices; where it was improperly imposed as pre-conviction punishment, often for very minor offenses, rather than the intended purpose of securing a return to court.

I am hopeful that bail reform will ultimately be shown to result in a more just and equitable system.

Barbara Kelley

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