Announcer: The following segment is sponsored by Harding Mazzotti.
Interviewer: One of the budget proposals being considered by New York State right now would give judges more discretion to set bail for offenders accused of serious crimes. According to a new Siena poll, there’s widespread support for this type of measure. So right now we have Cassandra Kazukenus from Harding Mazzotti here joining us to break this all down for us a little bit. So, first Cassandra, why is more discretion, more judicial discretion being discussed right now?
Cassandra: Well, I think they’re trying to walk back some of the initial legislation to give judges more discretion to consider all the factors. Currently, you know, shooting incidents and gun violence is decreasing amongst a lot of the state. But other violent crimes in particular seem to be increasing. And so they want to give the judges the discretion to be able to deal with that, especially when offenders are out on bail are not being able to be held on bail.
Interviewer: This has been a pretty controversial thing, something that a lot of people are talking about. So if this passes, what will it mean exactly?
Cassandra: So, there’s been some other amendments to the legislation since it came into effect in January of 2020. And so, it’s building off of that. So, it will work to clarify some of the confusing parts for the judges. For instance, the judges have to take into consideration the least restrictive means when determining how to get the defendants back to court, while also taking in other factors that are laid out. So the goal would be to give the judges the discretion to make a case by case determination within the confines of the statute that have factors to consider in the first instance while taking out some of that confusing language.
Interviewer: And here’s where things get a little bit political. So, what is the likelihood of this proposal actually, like, passing?
Cassandra: So, there’s a Siena poll that shows substantial bipartisan support for this. So, under the poll, 76% of Democrats, 71% of independents, and 69% of Republicans all support this. So, when there’s that kind of overwhelming support for something it’s likely to pass.
Interviewer: Does that necessarily drive with the lawmakers though?
Cassandra: Yeah, I think so. I think, you know, polling is always important, and it’s also an indication of what the communities are looking to have.
Interviewer: Yeah, okay. Cassandra, thank you so much…
Cassandra: Thank you.
Interviewer: …for talking to us about this. And for more info covered in our weekly “What Are Your Rights?” segments, or to send us a story idea, just head to our website, cbs6albany.com