Capitol Pressroom

Feb. 13, 2020: Sen. Luis Sepulveda on bail and solitary reform

While Democratic state lawmakers would like to address a variety of public protections issues this year, state Sen. Luis Sepulveda expects they’ll likely have to wait until tweaks are made to the recently enacted criminal justice laws.

“This session begins and ends with criminal justice reforms,” Sepulveda told the Capitol Pressroom on Thursday. “There’s no denying what’s sucking all the oxygen out of this legislative session so far and that’s the issue with bail reform, discovery reform and speedy trial reforms.”

One of the priorities that is being pushed to the backburner is legislation from the Bronx Democrat that would curb how and when solitary confinement is used on inmates in New York. And while he plans on continuing to push the issue, he acknowledged that it has “sort of taken a back seat.”

Front and center this week, though, are a package of reforms floated by Senate Democrats, including Sepulveda, to made additional changes to the state’s controversial bail laws. On the Capitol Pressroom, he declined to go into specifics about the proposal first reported by Newsday, but confirmed they’re considering a complete prohibition on the use of cash bail and allowing remand for some felony domestic violence crimes that aren’t currently bail eligible.

“Everything’s under consideration,” he said.

The outline of changes revealed so far have been panned by some liberal criminal justice advocates and Democratic Assembly members, who contend they’re rolling back the progress made last year. Sepulveda said it was “unfortunate” that people would criticize a proposal that hadn’t been formally fleshed out.

“Give us an opportunity first to present the final product before you start criticizing us,” he said, adding that whatever they come up with will be the most progressive proposal in the state’s history.

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