Many in the state of New York who had hoped for some criminal justice reform during this legislative session will have to continue to wait. Lawmakers in Albany are not moving quickly on proposed bills that would help inmates and assault victims.
The session is scheduled to end on June 20. Two important bills, the Child Victims Act and parole reform, might not get passed, while smaller bills could make it through a vote.
The bail reform bill is one of the most controversial ones on the docket for the session. The creator of the bill, a state senator, wants to open parole hearings to the public. This means that if passed, any resident of New York could attend a parole hearing throughout the state. The argument here is that the cases are named the following: "The People of the State of New York versus Subject A."
Also on the docket is bail reform. Some lawmakers are looking to remove the idea of cash bail from the state's justice system. Cash bail is when a judge allows a suspect to pay a set amount in order for them to stay out of jail while waiting for a hearing or their trial. At the same time, there is a bill waiting for a vote that would give defense attorneys access to evidence earlier in the legal process. Lawmakers hope this would create quicker trials that start sooner.
The Child Victims Act is another bill that likely won't see a vote this session. It has a goal of expanding the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse cases. It would also allow those who accuse others of sexual abuse to file lawsuits against the supposed perpetrators.
Criminal defense is an important part of your legal rights in New York, and beyond. Defending yourself against criminal charges is difficult but necessary if you want to protect your rights.
Source: City and State New York, "Bills to help inmates and assault victims keep going nowhere," May 31, 2018