By J. Zamgba Browne
Chief Correspondent

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has launched a statewide campaign to restore fairness to New York’s Criminal Justice System. He said the campaign advances his five-pronged reform package to overhaul the State’s criminal justice system.

This comprehensive package – the most progressive set of reforms in the nation, according Gov. Cuomo, will guarantee fairness for the accused by reshaping New York’s antiquated bail system, and ensure access to a speedy trial.

It will also improve the disclosure of evidence in the discovery process as well as transforms asset forfeiture procedures and implement new initiatives to help individuals transition from incarceration to their communities.

“For too long, our antiquated criminal justice system has created a two-tiered system were outcomes depend purely on economic status- undermining the bedrock principle that one is innocent until proven guilty,” said Gov. Cuomo.

He added that “this sweeping overhaul will transform our criminal justice system by removing critical barriers, reaffirming our beliefs in fairness, opportunity and dignity, and continue our historic progress toward a more equal society for all.” The legislation will accomplish the following:

* Eliminate monetary bail for people facing misdemeanor and non violent felony charges.

* Expand the discovery process to include disclosure of information in a timely manner including evidence and information favorable to the defense, intended exhibits, intended exhibits, expert opinion evidence, witnesses’ criminal history information; and search warrant information.

*   Reduce unnecessary delays and adjournments in court proceedings, requiring that people held in custody – not just their attorneys – consent to a speedy trial waiver that must be approved by a judge and ensure that defendants are not being held unnecessarily when the prosecution fails to meet deadlines.

*   Limit asset forfeiture proceedings to cases n which a conviction is obtained and enhance reporting requirements for local law enforcement and district attorneys.

*   Improve the re-entry process for individuals transitioning from incarceration to their communities and reduce unnecessary barriers to financial stability after release.


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