Brooklyn Defenders battle Albany: ‘No turning back’ on bail and discovery reforms

April 19, 2023 Robert Abruzzese
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As state legislators return to Albany amid ongoing budget negotiations, Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) is taking a stand against proposed changes to New York’s bail and discovery laws. The organization warns that alterations to these laws could jeopardize judicial accountability and put more New Yorkers at risk in unsafe jails.

Governor Hochul’s push for bail law amendments has drawn criticism from BDS, who argue that the changes would undermine efforts to hold the justice system accountable. With the state budget already two weeks overdue, BDS urges lawmakers to resist any attempts to revise these laws.

“These unjust proposals will not make New Yorkers safer – we know the safest communities have the most resources, not the most incarceration,” said the statement issued by BDS. “Instead they will erode police, prosecutorial, and judicial accountability and send more New Yorkers to languish in jails longer. As legislators return to Albany for yet another week of budget negotiations, we urge them to stand strong against these attempts to upend the law.”

Recent reports suggest that the governor, in collaboration with New York District Attorneys, is also seeking to dismantle the state’s discovery laws. BDS warns that such changes could return New York to the days of the ‘Blindfold Law,’ a time when individuals were often coerced into pleading guilty without access to critical evidence in their cases. This led to a surge in mass incarceration and a spike in wrongful convictions.

BDS contends that these proposed changes will not make New York communities safer. Instead, they argue that the focus should be on allocating more resources to communities rather than increasing incarceration rates. As budget negotiations continue, BDS calls on legislators to remain steadfast in their opposition to any attempts to roll back bail and discovery laws, emphasizing the need to prioritize accountability and justice for all New Yorkers.

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