New York political battle intensifies over sweeping bail changes

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Law enforcement officials and prosecutors are intensifying a debate over the implementation of sweeping changes to New York's criminal justice system.

They voiced concerns on Thursday over changes that are set to take effect at the beginning of 2020.

In numerous locations across the state, hundreds of district attorneys, sheriffs, police chiefs, union members and other law enforcement officials called on the legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo to address serious concerns to the new bail and discovery laws.

They claim the bills were embedded in the larger budget bill and were passed with little to no input from the law enforcement community.

The bail bill will eliminate cash bail for a wide swath of crimes, and they say it fails to provide any mechanism for judges to consider a defendant's danger to the community.

The discovery bill overhauls the discovery process and requires an expedited timeline to provide materials such as police reports, radio transmissions, body-worn and dash-cam video, laboratory test results and volumes of other materials and data related to prosecution.

Critics say the bill considerably expands the number of cases where these documents must be exchanged yet provides no additional funding or resources for prosecutors or law enforcement to comply.

They argue the discovery bill also requires the disclosure of victim and witness names and identifying information to the accused without adequate mechanisms to protect against witness intimidation and tampering.

"We cannot sugarcoat the reality," PBA President Pat Lynch said. "If left unchanged, the new bail and discovery laws will put dangerous criminals back on the streets and arm them with information that puts witnesses and crime victims at risk."

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