(NEW YORK, NY) – Tina Luongo, Attorney-In-Charge of the Criminal Defense Practice at The Legal Aid Society, released the following statement after the New York State Assembly passed A10137–legislation that would reform the State’s bail statute:
“The Legal Aid Society commends the Assembly, Speaker Heastie, and Assembly Member Latrice Walker for passing bail reform legislation. As the crisis of mass incarceration has grown, so has the need to pass sweeping criminal justice reform. The Assembly’s passage of bail reform legislation is an important step toward righting this systemic injustice.
However, true reform must adequately address wealth-based pretraial incarceration. Every day, Legal Aid Society lawyers are in court fighting to uphold the principle that the Supreme Court articulated in Bearden v. Georgia in 1983–that a state may not punish a person for their poverty. We continue to call on all New York lawmakers to better the bill to ensure either an outright end to money bail, or a requirement that judges set money bail in an amount that the accused can afford. We also continue to demand legislation that abolishes the for-profit bail bond industry, which continues to profit off of communities of color who are forced to pay for their loved ones’ pretrial freedom.
The Legal Aid Society remains committed to working with our allies in the Assembly and Senate to pass bail reform that includes these necessary safeguards, and continues to call on Governor Cuomo to reengage in this debate and ensure that the legislation that ends the abuse of money bail becomes law.”