Local authorities call for end to bail reform

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State Assemblyman colin Schmitt, at podium, is surrounded by local law enforcement and elected officials in calling for an end to the state's bail reform laws

NEW WINDSOR – When bail reform was enacted at the beginning of the year in New York State, it was supposed to help the poor and disadvantaged with an undue burden after committing a petty crime.

But now state, local and Orange County law enforcement officials are calling for a repeal to these bail measures after a level 3, sex offender was apprehended after recently breaking into a New Windsor nursery school playground and released without bail.

“He gets arrested and is immediately released without bail,” said Assemblyman Colin Schmitt, (R-New Windsor). “This is not safety; this is not making our community better. Right now this pervert could be back at that playground because there is no check to make him accountable, there is no check to keep him locked up for his menacing and for his predatory behavior.”

Schmitt said lawmakers have considered plans to correct the problem, which he is blaming on Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Democratic majority in the state legislature that passed these reforms.

“They were steadfast, and now they are beginning to crumble,” said Schmitt. “It is a failed idea, and it is not working. We are demanding repeal and real progress.”

Orange County District Attorney Dave Hoovler, president of the state district attorneys association, joined Schmitt in asking Albany to address the problem. Hoovler expects some action, but he doubts, unlike the former system, if changes will be made to ensure the unnamed sex offender in New Windsor would have remained in jail.

“There probably will be,” said Hoovler, of any upcoming changes. “The problem is that will happen behind closed doors, without public input and a few selected people being involved in the process. Under the new system, any proposal I have seen so far, this person would be released. This person would have never been released under the old system.”

New Windsor Town Supervisor George Meyers, a retired state trooper, blasted the local authorities saying news conferences won’t make a difference in the bail reform issue. Local police and municipal politicians deal with the problem daily, he said.

As for Mark Nelson, the man charged with entering the nursery school playground, he may have been released, but he is no longer in New Windsor, Meyers said.

“The Supervisor’s bizarre reaction to efforts to keep our community safe is nothing more than an effort to distract from the fact that Supervisor Meyers’ own son, who is one of the few remaining non-attorney judges left in the state, carelessly released this dangerous sexual predator back into our community,” Schmitt said. “He failed to follow the lead of other judges who exercised their legal acumen to keep predators like this away from our kids. I wish the Supervisor cared about protecting New Windsor’s children as much as he does his own. I hope the Supervisor changes his mind and decides to join the District Attorney, Sheriff and myself in our continuing effort to repeal this terrible law.”