Councilman Deutsch launches petition against cashless bail

Nelson staffer wants his seat

Sheepshead Bay Councilman Chaim Deutsch launched a petition calling on the state to continue imprisoning hundreds of inmates accused of criminal offenses, who are poised to be released when a new cashless bail system kicks in on Jan. 1.

“Looking forward to the new year? Not me,” Deutsch tweeted on Dec. 17. “Beginning January 1st, state bail reform laws will take affect (sic). People arrested for things like selling drugs to children, assault, & arson will be set free with no restrictions.”

Inmates who could not afford their set bail for misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenses will be released under the new legislation that passed as a budget measure on April 1, and has drawn criticism from law enforcement and conservative lawmakers, including Deutsch.

“Bail reform, which will revamp the criminal justice system and release thousands of suspected offenders onto the streets, is of grave concern to us,” Deutsch said in his petition to Governor Andrew Cuomo released on Dec. 24. “Rising hate crimes, prolific drug usage, and frequent news of violent attacks, such as the murder of young Tessa Majors just this month, leave us wondering why you have chosen to implement vast changes in the way our state approaches suspects in criminal activity.”

Under the new law, officers are required to issue desk appearance tickets to suspects of non-violent crimes which include child endangerment, promoting sexual performances from a child and failing to appear in court following bail. 

The Sheepshead Bay councilman’s petition — which quickly garnered more than 1,000 signatures — also calls for an end to the new discovery laws passed at the same time as the cashless bail program that require prosecutors turn over all evidence related to the case 15 days after arraignment, as opposed to waiting until the day the trial begins. 

“New discovery laws will also have dire implications, including making it more difficult for police and district attorneys to protect witnesses and victims,” Deutsch wrote. 

Deutsch is one of the two Brooklyn City Council representatives — Yaeger being the other — who voted against the approved closure of Rikers Island which is planned for 2026.