Across the country, district attorneys are speaking out against bail reform, sharing reservations about the effectiveness of bail reform policies, the safety of victims and the people in the room creating policy.
Most recently, New York district attorneys are speaking out. Gary M. Pasqua and Kristyna S. Mills spoke to the Watertown Daily Times about their concerns:
“It leaves out a ton….Someone coming up here from New York City who is selling crack, who’s selling heroin, who’s selling fentanyl, they can come up here, regardless of their criminal history, they could be a three-time felon…I can’t even apply to have them detained. They get released,” Mr. Pasqua said.
“I have a case right now, pending, where a guy made terroristic threats…that he was going to go into a well-known venue and shoot up the venue,” shared Mills. “He was caught with a loaded handgun…and indicated that the only way that he could be stopped is if he was arrested. Unfortunately that is the exact type of case that we are not going to be able to hold somebody under this new bail reform.”
Mills is also concerned with the safety of victims in her county, calling proposed policies “chilling” and “very, very dangerous.”
“Most defendants are going to be out now and they are going to have all of the information that they are going to need to be able to go after [victims and] witnesses if they choose to do so,” said Mills. “It is a very concerning couple of reforms in the way that they dovetail together, as far as public safety is concerned.”
And she isn’t alone. In New Mexico, District Attorney John Sugg is demanding a change after voters passed a constitutional amendment to bail reform in 2016.
“I have seen child pornographers, rapists, child molesters, armed robbers, and killers walk out of jails across the state after the prosecution had presented up to four hours of testimony regarding the dangerousness of a defendant,” said Sugg to the Ruidoso News. “Here we are nearly a year later and the Court has failed to act to address the obvious shortcomings in the rules.
Similarly, speaking to a local paper in Texas, Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham is concerned with the risk of letting defendants out when they are charged with serious crimes is more important to him than how much money a defendant has.
“The issue is, ‘What’s the nature of the offense? What’s their flight risk? Are they a danger to the community?’” Bingham said. "And if somebody is, [what is] the appropriate bond amount for this case with these facts …One guy charged with it can make the $100,000 [bond] and the other can’t, then OK. I mean, that’s the nature. That’s why I drive a pickup truck and other people drive a Mercedes.”
Pasqua and Mills are also particularly concerned with who is contributing to policy decisions.
“I think what we all want is knowledgeable people on the consequences of those decisions being allowed to have those conversations,” Mills said.
“Why are we not listening to the people who have actual, practical experience with these things and you can hear from every side? That would be the appropriate thing to do,” said Pasqua.