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Police, prosecutors say new bail laws are threat to public safety

September 30, 2019 08:46 PM

Skyler Crouse spit at a NewsChannel 13 photographer as he was being led into arraignment on a manslaughter charge Thursday evening.

Police say Crouse drove 100-miles per hour on the Northway when he crashed his truck into Joseph Turcotte's truck and killed the pillar of the Brant Lake community.

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Crouse, who lives on an Indian reservation in Canada, left court in handcuffs after a judge ordered him held without bail.

But if this had happened Jan. 1, 2020 or later, Crouse, who has a history of failing to show up for court, would have been set free and told to come back for future court proceedings.

Police and prosecutors in Warren and Washington counties aren't happy with the new bail laws.

"Potentially the victim of a crime could report the crime, we could make the arrest, and they could see the same person walk out of our building a couple hours later," said Washington County Sheriff Jeff Murphy.

The laws were attached to a state budget bill. The long list of crimes that will no longer qualify for bail includes manslaughter, Class A drug felonies and burglary.

"They took away the ability and discretion of judges to factor public safety in to any bail decision they're making," said Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan.

Jordan points to the Jeremy Joseph burglary case. The Vermont man kicked in the front door of dozens of homes in Washington, Rensselaer and Bennington counties last year. Jordan says if Joseph, who'd had a felony criminal record, had been arrested after January 1, he would have been released with an appearance ticket.

Law enforcement mockingly refers to the state's bail reform as "catch and release."

"When you start to lose that ability of our judges who really speak to the community concerns in weighing those decisions, now you've put the public at risk," said Jordan.

State Assemblyman Dan Stec, R - Queensbury called for repeal of the bail reform laws Monday, "This is absolutely unacceptable and a public safety concern for all of us."

Offenses that don't qualify for bail in New York State

Source: the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York

  • Assault in the third degree
  • Aggravated vehicular assault
  • Aggravated assault upon a person less than eleven years old
  • Criminally negligent homicide
  • Aggravated vehicular homicide
  • Manslaughter in the second degree
  • Unlawful imprisonment in the first degree
  • Coercion in the first degree
  • Arson in the third and fourth degree
  • Grand larceny in the first degree
  • Criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds or criminal possession of a firearm
  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first and second degree
  • Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first and second degree
  • Criminal sale of a controlled substance in or near school grounds
  • Specified felony drug offenses involving the use of children, including the use of a child to commit a controlled substance offense and criminal sale of a controlled substance to a child
  • Criminal solicitation in the first degree and criminal facilitation in the first degree
  • Money laundering in support of terrorism in the third and fourth degree
  • Making a terroristic threat
  • Patronizing a person for prostitution in a school zone
  • Promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child
  • Possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child
  • Promoting a sexual performance by a child
  • Failure to register as a sex offender
  • Obstructing governmental administration in the first and second degree
  • Obstructing governmental administration by means of a self-defense spray device
  • Bribery in the first degree
  • Bribe giving for public office
  • Bribe receiving in the first degree
  • Promoting prison contraband in the first and second degree
  • Resisting arrest
  • Hindering prosecution
  • Tampering with a juror and tampering with physical evidence
  • Aggravated harassment in the first degree
  • Directing a laser at an aircraft in the first degree
  • Criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree
  • Criminal sale of a firearm to a minor
  • Enterprise corruption and money laundering in the first degree
  • Aggravated cruelty to animals, overdriving, torturing and injuring animals
  • Failure to provide proper sustenance
  • Animal fighting

Credits

Mark Mulholland

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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