The Republican majority in Nassau are calling on County Executive Laura Curran to publicly oppose the state’s new criminal justice reform law and release more details about the county’s implementation plan ahead of the law’s official start date of Jan. 1.
The lawmakers — from the county legislature, State Assembly and the Town of Hempstead — on Monday joined the corrections officers’ union and local civic groups in East Meadow to decry the new measures, citing a threat to public safety and unpredictable costs associated with monitoring defendants no longer in jail while awaiting trial.
They are also pressing Curran and Long Island’s six Democratic state senators to advocate for more public safety funding and help change the law to ensure dangerous criminals are not released back into the community.
The new laws, approved in April, will eliminate cash bail for defendants facing misdemeanor and nonviolent felony charges and result in the release of inmates from the county jail.
“Will the inmates be released incrementally? Will the county release the names of those being released and what crime they have been charged with? Will they be monitored once they are set free?” said Legis. John Ferretti (R-Levittown) during a news conference at the headquarters of the Nassau County Sheriff’s Correction Officers Benevolent Association in East Meadow. “These are legitimate, valid questions that residents, specifically in the community surrounding the jail, have. Residents deserve this information. They deserve transparency and they deserve leaders who speak up for their safety and their interests.”
On Jan. 1, an estimated 175 inmates become eligible for release from the county correctional facility in East Meadow, according to County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Michael Golio.
Golio cited new figures Monday that show a current jail population of 980. A previous snapshot showed the population was about 1,100, with 300 inmates eligible for release. He said it was unclear whether admissions to the jail were dropping in advance of the new law.
Also under the new law, prosecutors must meet a tightened 15-day deadline to turn over to the defense evidence such as police reports, photos, electronic recordings and witness information, and share information with defendants to review when they are deciding whether to enter into guilty pleas.
To comply with the state reforms, Nassau has allocated about $6 million, according to new budget numbers Monday from the county executive’s office.
“It’s easy to play politics and get sound bites but my job is to lead,” Curran said when asked to respond to the Republicans. “The law is the law and we have been planning for months — for months — with the police department, corrections and the district attorney’s office to make sure we are ready for all facets of this law. We have historic crime lows and my job is to implement the law and get it right.”
Curran said she believed the conversations happening around the law in Nassau are occurring all over the state and she is “confident we will be continuing to have these conversations in Albany in the coming session.”
The county executive and Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder will outline plans Tuesday for releasing inmates from the county jail under the new law.
Senate Majority spokesman Mike Murphy said the new laws “will save taxpayer money, improve monitoring and oversight for suspects of low-level crimes.
“Criminal justice reform is one of the few places where we see bipartisan support and action from conservative and progressive-leaning states,” Murphy said on Monday. “Unfortunately, there are some who want to push lies and fear for their own political gain.”