Ashby Pushing For Amendments To Bail Reforms To Keep Drug Traffickers Off Streets

Assemblyman Jake Ashby (R,C,I,Ref-Castleton) joined his Republican colleagues and Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan in calling for reforms to the recent bail reforms passed earlier this year which gave mandatory pre-trial release to drug traffickers. Ashby and Jordan are urging discretion be given back to judges to impose bail on those who commit Class A felonies which are related to narcotics trafficking.

“Every community in our state has been in some way touched by the heroin and opioid epidemic or other illicit drug addictions. We must trust our judges with the discretion to hold dangerous drug traffickers during the pretrial period,” said Ashby. “The recent criminal justice reforms were meant to help individuals who hit a rough patch in their lives, not those who knowingly and continually peddle poison in our communities.”

“This is exactly why we prize judges who have sound judgement – we know that judicial discretion is absolutely critical to keeping our communities safe. The idea of letting a high-level narcotics trafficker with unlimited resources walk out of their arraignment is an insult to the meticulous, exhausting work prosecutors and law enforcement officials do to bring them into custody in the first place,” said Jordan.

The legislation would expand on which types of offenses a judge may impose bail to include:

  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the second degree (A-II felony);
  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree (A-I felony);
  • Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree (A-II felony); and
  • Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree (A-I felony).

Judges currently have discretion over pre-trial release in cases of those “operating as a major drug trafficker,” which would only apply to about 35 cases annually, according to the Division of Criminal Justice Services. In New York City alone, 1,000 defendants have been charged with A-I felonies related to drug sales. The legislation would ensure that judges are able to determine if these individuals would be allowed back on the street before their trial.