Prosecutor: bail reform frustrating, problematic

ALBANY – It was earlier this week when several Albany police squad car windows were smashed by a man with a brick, and the man allegedly responsible, Laquan Brown, stood before a judge, pleaded not guilty to the felony, and was released back on the street within one hour.

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“It is not surprising because since bail reform almost all misdemeanors or low level felonies are not bail eligible,” Albany County’s Deputy Chief District Attorney Christopher Horn, points out. “You can’t hold anyone on those charges.”

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Horn considers it problematic that recognizance has become the rule rather than the exception for far too many criminal defendants.

“Bail reform is just frustration because the reality is the more people who commit crimes are left out on the streets, the more crimes are going to be committed out on the streets,” Horn suggests.

Even though the intent of bail reform was to create a more equitable justice system for low income and minorities, Horn believes the reality is a “disturbing result with an opposite impact.”

“Actually, right now they’re unfairly impacting lives of minority people because a lot of the neighborhoods where most of the crime occurs are filled with minority individuals who are innocent victims of all this,” Horn opines, “They are simply trying to live their lives and they are the ones who are suffering the brunt of the affects of the increase in crime in those areas.”

One of Horn’s many beefs is that bail reform got pushed through the budget process void of any legislative hearings that would have allowed state lawmakers to gather input directly from practitioners. The consequences, according to Horn, could be more more serious than vandalized police cars.

“The current process that we have now, you have 16 and 17 year olds being caught with illegal guns on the streets and they’re immediately sent home,” Horn says, “so you have essentially legalized the carrying of illegal weapons by 16 and 17 year olds.”

It should be noted, the Brennan Center For Justice has concluded there is no evidence linking bail reform to the 2020-21 (nationwide) crime increase.