County Legislature unanimously approves bill to get data on criminal justice, bail reform effects

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Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park). (Photo courtesy of the presiding officer's office)

The Nassau County Legislature has unanimously passed a bill that requires the Nassau County Police Department to produce quarterly crime reports on the effects of criminal justice and cashless bail reforms.

“The law that passed unanimously this evening will provide lawmakers and residents with quantifiable data regarding those released in Nassau,” Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said in a release. “We can then use this information to urge state lawmakers to repeal and replace this so-called reform.”

According to county officials, the quarterly review that will be submitted by county law enforcement officials will include the total number of defendants released on cashless bail, a brief overview of the crimes they committed, the number of bench warrants issued for a defendant’s failure to attend a proceeding, and the number of crimes and charges against defendants since they have been released without bail.

The bill was passed on Monday night and is expected to be signed by Nassau County Executive Laura Curran in the near future, according to a release sent out by the county on Tuesday.

Curran has voiced her opinion on criminal justice reform through press conferences, press releases, and op-ed pieces since January.

“My administration has been very open with proactively providing statistics to any resident, reporter or lawmaker that requests them and will happily organize the data into a format for our County Legislators to easily understand,” Curran said in an email statement. “While I don’t believe an entirely new law has to be created in order to facilitate this practice, I will sign the bill with the safety and security of our communities as my number one focus.”

“With daily news stories of crimes being committed by those released under this ‘reform,’ it is important for Legislators to gather as much information as possible about the effects of cashless bail in Nassau,” Nicolello said in a statement.

According to Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, major crime has increased by 5 percent in Nassau County since cashless bail took effect.

County officials have said suspects charged with serious crimes have been released and in some cases, committing more crimes while they are out.

Ryder has been one of the more vocal county officials on the subject and cited the arrests of three Chileans who allegedly burglarized homes in areas such as Great Neck, Saddle Rock and Hewlett.

Ryder said that the new bail reform laws allowed two members of the alleged Chilean crew to flee the country and not appear for their schedule prosecution.

The new laws, passed in April, eliminated pretrial detention and optional cash bail in an estimated 90 percent of cases.

According to county officials, more than 175 people accused of misdemeanors and “nonviolent felonies” were initially released without bail as they await trial.

Officials said Curran now has 30 days to either sign or veto the bill.

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