When Maybrook Police Sgt. Michael Maresco described the unintended consequences of the recent state bail reform law in the village, the board promised to confer with State Senator James Skoufis about reforming the law.
That promise was realized at Monday’s village board meeting when members unanimously passed a resolution memorializing the State Legislature to “consider immediate changes to the newly enacted criminal justice reform laws”.
Those laws, known collectively as bail reform, took effect Jan. 1. They strictly curtail the use of cash bail and pretrial detention, with judges no longer being able to set bail for a long list of misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, including stalking, assault without serious injury, burglary, many drug offenses and some kinds of arson and robbery.
“We just want judges to have more discretion to set bail,” Mayor Dennis Leahy said. “We agree with the intent of the reforms, but it just needs tweaking.”
Opponents of the reforms have complained it was enacted too quickly and without enough thought to possible unintentional consequences.
“We’re in trouble with this law,” Trustee Kevin Greany said, “and have to change it.”
At a prior meeting, Sgt. Maresco had described Maybrook’s first encounter with such unintended consequences during a recent call for a woman, under the influence, driving erratically with two small children in the car. They were limited to issuing her an appearance ticket. There was no option to arraign her before a judge who could have set bail and/or the sent her to jail.
There was a second incident during which Maybrook police made a traffic stop for driving under the influence and again, the driver was only issued an appearance ticket.
The board called upon the State Legislature to immediately revise the reform laws while maintaining the intent to alleviate disparities within the justice system.