Federal Attorney: New York Bail Reform Law Defies ‘Common Sense’


While announcing the arrest Friday of a man wanted on a federal warrant for bank robbery, United States Attorney for the Eastern District Richard P. Donoghue said a four-day manhunt was necessary because the man had been released under New York’s new bail law, despite felony charges in four bank robberies in 12 months. For four days last week, Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and detectives of the New York City Police Department sought to arrest Gerod Woodberry before he surrendered Friday afternoon, according to a news release.

Donohue said no sound, rational and fair criminal justice system requires the pre-trial release of criminal defendants who demonstrate such determination to continuously commit serious crimes. Prior to the recently-enacted reforms, New York judges weighing pre-trial release could consider the flight risk, but not the dangerousness, posed by a charged defendant. The recent reforms have made a bad situation worse by entirely excluding classes of purportedly “non-violent” felonies – like the bank robberies here – from pre-trial confinement eligibility. Preventing judges from considering the danger a charged defendant poses to the public when making a pre-trial confinement decision defies common sense and endangers all New Yorkers.

Donoghue said the recently-enacted bail reforms have dramatically altered the New York criminal justice system and even more dramatic criminal justice proposals are under consideration in New York and across the country. While we must ensure that all criminal justice systems are open to scrutiny and reform, we must also guard against the outright dismantling of criminal justice systems masquerading as criminal justice reform.