'Prisoners are people': Community organizer voices support for bail reform law

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New laws regarding criminal justice reform in New York went into effect in January and have drawn backlash, but one community organizer says the changes have been largely positive.

As of Jan. 1, anyone who has been arrested with a misdemeanor or nonviolent crime cannot be held on cash bail. Before the reform, if a defendant was unable to meet bail, they would be held in prison.

Concerns were immediately raised after the bill passed in April that without bail, offenders would commit another crime. Stories have come from various parts of the state of alleged offenders who were released and shortly after committed another crime.

But community organizer Tatiana Hill, who serves with advocacy organization VOCAL-NY, says prisoners need to be recognized as people and that prison is not a place for someone who has not been proven guilty.

Hill says the new laws give defendants an opportunity to live out their lives while they wait to defend themselves.

Apart from the elimination of bail on some offenses, defendants are also presented with evidence against them 15 days after their arraignment as part of the law. Hill says that change allows them to prepare a proper defense.

 

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