November 2, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. | U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik has joined New York Republican colleagues in introducing the Stop Enabling Repeat Violence and Endangering (SERVE) Our Communities Act-aimed at incentivizing stronger bail laws and improving public safety.

Since taking effect in 2020, New York State’s bail reform laws have eliminated cash bail and expanded pretrial release for a variety of misdemeanor and felony charges.

In announcing the measure Nov. 2, Stefanik said New York’s bail reform policies put communities at risk, calling them reckless and dangerous.

“This legislation would incentivize the state of New York to implement policies that correct their massive oversight and hold repeat offenders accountable. I’m proud to stand united with local law enforcement and our community members to work to keep the North Country, and our state of New York, safe. I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this legislation forward.”

The SERVE Our Communities Act, led by Congressman John Katko (R-N.Y.), provides an incentive for states like New York to adopt policies that hold repeat offenders accountable and bolster public safety.

Specifically, the bill would authorize $10 million in anti-recidivism grant funding from the Department of Justice for states that have laws directing courts to consider dangerousness when determining bail or pretrial release.

To receive grant money, states with these laws may also take steps to hire and retain law enforcement or administer a public awareness campaign that combats anti-police sentiment and improves community-police relations.

Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague said “New York State Bail Reform needs to be amended to give discretion back to the judges in deciding release status. Too many repeat offenders and dangerous offenders are being released within minutes of being arraigned. Safety issues and the rights of innocent victims and witnesses are being ignored. Public safety and the rights of the accused both need to be considered equally. Justice cannot be blind to this one-sided legislation and revisions must be explored immediately.”

Saratoga County Sheriff Michael H. Zurlo applauded the initiative saying “It is evident New York’s bail reform needs to be revised. I am thankful for Congresswoman Stefanik’s work on this issue to bring attention to the problems facing our communities and her effort to support law enforcement to do our jobs as we work to keep communities safe.”

The legislation has been endorsed by the National District Attorneys Association, Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Organizations and Major Cities Chiefs Association.

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