Nearly 900 city jailbirds could be celebrating Christmas early courtesy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a plan to quietly free them before the state’s bail-reform law goes into effect next year, The Post has learned.
And if that weren’t enough of a gift, Mayor Bill de Blasio is promising to follow up with even more presents for the lucky accused criminals — by giving them free baseball tickets, movie passes and gift cards to encourage them to return to court, sources familiar with the program said.
“You’re literally rewarding them for committing a crime,’’ said a disgusted senior staffer in Manhattan Criminal Court.
The proposed early jail release is tied to a law that Cuomo signed in the spring to eliminate bail for defendants charged with an array of misdemeanor and felony crimes.
The more than 400 offenses include such heinous acts as criminally negligent homicide, aggravated assault on a child under 11 and selling drugs on or near school grounds, according to a memo being circulated by prosecutors across the state and obtained by The Post.
The law goes into effect Jan. 1 but it will be retroactive — meaning inmates who are already locked up on such cases can apply to have their bail lifted and to be freed.
In the Big Apple, court officials estimate that 880 prisoners — about 16 percent of all pretrial detainees housed by the Department of Correction — will be eligible for the get-out-of-jail-free cards.
To avoid a deluge of applications in the new year, the state Office of Court Administration has held a series of conferences where officials outlined four ways for judges to deal with the new law, according to a source familiar with the situation.
One proposal would allow judges to issue pre-emptive orders that “comply with the new statute before its effective date,” the source said — and the OCA is already prepping for the move.
New York’s Bail Reform Law: Major Components and Implications
- In New York City, 43 percent of the almost 5,000 people detained pretrial on April 1, 2019 would have been released under the new legislation. Outside of New York City, the effects could be even greater.
- Of the almost 205,000 criminal cases arraigned in New York City in 2018, only 10 percent would have been eligible for money bail under the new law.
Report: New Bail Reform Law Could Release Nearly 900 Inmates by Christmas
The mayor’s office tells the Post that the city has an award-winning supervised release program that produces high rates of return to court.
NYPD Counterterror Chief Slams New York’s Bail Reform Plan
John Miller said under the new rules, 99 percent of those arrested will be released after arraignment. He says the plan is misguided.
“Everybody who gets arrested for anything except for maybe murder and attempted murder is going to be released without having to pay any bail, right at arraignment,” Miller said.
He criticized the reform for eliminating incentive for criminals to stop breaking the law.
Miller also criticized the reform’s change to the trial discovery process. Three weeks after an arrest, prosecutors would be required to hand over all evidence, including victim and witness information, which Miller believes would put them at risk.