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NY political battle intensifies over sweeping bail changes

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York law enforcement officials and prosecutors voiced a wide range of concerns Thursday over sweeping criminal justice reforms set to take effect at the beginning of 2020.

Their concerns largely centered on changes to the state’s bail law and the legal process known as discovery, a process where the prosecution provides information about the case to the defense.

The bail law eliminates pre-trial detention and money bail for the wide majority of misdemeanor and non-violent felony cases. It’s expected to reduce the number of people held in jail while awaiting trial.

Speaking at a press conference with law enforcement officials and prosecutors, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said the changes will jeopardize public safety. He asked the state to slow down in changing the system and let law enforcement officials “have a seat at the table.”

Supporters of the changes say it will prevent poor people from languishing in jail for low-level crimes while their cases work through the system.

Community bail funds described money bail as needless and cruel.

“Today’s efforts to derail much-needed changes to our criminal legal system is a sad attempt to disrupt a pathway to justice,” said Nicole Triplett, policy counsel at the New York Civil Liberties Union, in a statement.

Under the new discovery law, prosecutors will be required to turn over discovery information within 15 days after an arraignment. But there are exceptions and the prosecution can be allowed another 30 days if there’s a large amount of information or if they do not have possession of the information.

The law seeks to give defendants more information about their cases.

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