Curran releases plan to prioritize residents’ safety ahead of new bail reform initiatives

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Members of the Nassau County Legislature and civic leaders called upon Laura Curran for a plan ahead of a Jan. 1 release date of 300 'reformed' inmates. (Photo courtesy of Nassau County)

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran released a plan for the upcoming release of ‘reformed’ inmates in response to members of the County Legislature and civic leaders imploring her to do so.

“My number one focus is to keep protecting our residents while enforcing the law. Crime is at historic lows and the continued safety of our residents is crucial,” Curran said in a statement on Tuesday. “I want to make sure all residents know that all Nassau County agencies have been extremely diligent in preparing for the successful and smooth transition to the new bail reform laws, with the safety of our residents and our law enforcement as the guidepost.”

The release of over 300 inmates from the Nassau County Correctional Facility is part of state-wide criminal justice reform initiatives that will go into effect on Jan. 1.

People accused of misdemeanors and what are described as “non-violent felonies” will be released without bail as they await trial, according to county officials.

According to the law, passed in April, it will eliminate pretrial detention and optional cash bail in an estimated 90 percent of cases. If properly implemented, a conservative estimate of the legislation’s impact projects a 40 percent reduction overall in the state’s pretrial jail population, saving taxpayers money.

Earlier in the year, Curran informed and directed agencies to prepare a “safe and orderly transition” into the new bail reform laws.  According to county officials, $6.1 million was allocated in the budget to accommodate proper staffing and transportation needs those awaiting trial.

Some initiatives that Curran mentioned included diligently monitoring the facility’s parking lot, increasing phone accessibility for transportation purposes, scheduling NICE bus service routes, and working with the Department of Social Services to explore temporary housing.

Nassau County residents have become more concerned with their own safety and well-being, especially those close to the facility in East Meadow, according to Nassau County Legislator John Ferretti (R-Levittown).

Ferretti said his office has been receiving calls from concerned citizens wondering what actions will be implemented to regulate the release of inmates.

“Very close by the Correctional Facility is Nassau University Medical Center, Eisenhower Park, and two colleges, and East Meadow High School across the street,” Ferretti said.

Ferretti was joined by President of the Nassau County Correction Officers Benevolent Association Brian Sullivan, state Assemblymen Ed Ra and John Mikulin, town councilmembers Dennis Dunne, Sr, and Chris Carini, county Clerk Maureen O’Connell, and local civic leaders urging Curran to release her plan, which she did on Tuesday.

“I’ll be closely monitoring the transition to these new bail reform laws and will maintain constant contact with all departments affected to ensure we are taking every step possible to ensure the residents’ safety,” Curran said.

The county executive’s office also said there will be an increase of patrol members in and around the facility for Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 when the initial groups of people awaiting trial will be released.  Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said that he expects to see an increase in crime in the County because of these new reforms.

“If you break the law, we’ll lock you up. If you continue to break the law, we’ll lock you up. We’ll keep locking you up as long as you break the law in this county,” Ryder said.

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