BUFFALO, N.Y. — Erie County is ahead of the curve on bail reform.
Changes in the law that take effect January 1 prohibit the imposition of cash bail on defendants charged with misdemeanors and non-violent crimes. But in Erie County, as of November 1, assistant district attorneys cannot ask for bail on those offenses without prior approval from a supervisor.
“Come December first, only I can approve it,” said John Flynn, the Erie County District Attorney. “That’s how we’re phasing it in. Then come January, none of us can ask because the judges cannot do it.”
He added: “Individuals who are charged with low-level offenses, misdemeanors or even non-violent felonies should not be in jail awaiting trial just because they’re poor. The only people who should be in jail awaiting trial are individuals who are a flight risk, a genuine flight risk.”
Despite prosecutors no longer asking for bail, Buffalo City Court judges are still setting it in many instances, which they can do for the time being.