John Katko

01/17/2020 | Press release | Archived content

Rep. Katko Calls on Cuomo To Rescind Harmful NYS Bail Reforms

Katko Cites Safety Concerns, Additional Unfunded Mandates for NYS Taxpayers

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK - U.S Rep. John Katko (NY-24) today called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to address the dangerous bail reform policies recently put in place in New York State and make changes to ensure communities are safer.

Rep. Katko stated, 'I spent a career in law enforcement as a federal prosecutor before coming to Congress, and firmly believe that the Governor's bail reform laws risk the safety of our communities and put the victims of crime and their families in danger. These policies place an unfunded mandate on local municipalities, passing on yet another cost to already-overburdened NYS taxpayers. Reforms to our criminal justice system are certainly overdue, but they must include protections for victims and their families, and prioritize the safety of our communities. We've already seen the negative and dangerous local impact of bail reform in Central New York and throughout the state, and I urge Governor Cuomo to take steps to change these policies.'

Rep. Katko highlighted the opposition to Cuomo's bail and discovery laws from law enforcement and public safety officials throughout New York State, who have warned of the dangerous impact of these new policies.

In addition to today's letter, Rep. Katko has introduced the bipartisan Bill's Promise Act, legislation which would conduct a comprehensive assessment of pre-trial release laws at the federal, state, and local level. In December 2019, Rep. Katko joined a group of bipartisan lawmakers in urging Governor Cuomo to rethink enacting these bail reforms in New York.

The text of Rep. Katko's letter can be found below:

January 17, 2020

The Honorable Andrew Cuomo

Governor of New York State

NYS State Capitol Building

Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Cuomo,

I am writing to relay the significant concerns that many of my constituents have raised regarding the bail and discovery laws that took effect in New York State on January 1, 2020. On behalf of Central New York's families, I ask that every effort be made to expedite reforms to these laws and ensure the safety of our community.

As you know, the recently enacted NYS bail reforms significantly limit the ability of law enforcement to hold individuals on the basis of a wide range of misdemeanor and felony charges. These laws restrict the capacity of judges to intervene and keep dangerous individuals off the street, instead creating a dangerous environment that allows outcomes for our justice system to be determined by an offender's willingness to appear in court. With the limitations of this approach already becoming apparent across the state, I ask that every effort be made to restore the ability of our judges and law enforcement officers to intervene in the interest of public safety.

Additionally, Central New York communities must now contend with the significant unfunded mandates presented by NYS discovery laws. Under these laws, law enforcement must rapidly process evidence in order to meet mandatory timelines for evidence sharing. Despite the goal of expediting criminal proceedings, these requirements threaten to overwhelm our local police departments and pass significant costs on to taxpayers. The end result will be the dismissal of serious charges against potentially dangerous individuals, not the administration of justice. For this reason, serious considerations must be made regarding the efficacy of these laws, as well as the significant resource limitations already facing our law enforcement communities.

Throughout my career as a federal prosecutor, I have been honored to work with New York State's law enforcement community. For this reason, I am proud to join countless public safety advocates and members of the law enforcement community in calling for substantive improvements to the newly enacted bail and discovery laws, including the New York State District Attorneys Association, the New York State Sheriffs' Association, and the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police.

Thank you in advance for your time and attention to this matter. I look forward to your response.


John Katko
Member of Congress