DA blames bail reform for sex offender’s release

Article courtesy of the News 1, New York

By Anya Tucker – posted August 11th, 2022

WATERVLIET, N.Y. (News10)-The Albany County District Attorney and area law-enforcement are blaming bail reform for a judge’s decision to release a Level 3 sex offender who was recently arrested on charges of raping an autistic man.

News10’s Anya Tucker found Jamal Ali outside his Watervliet apartment where the alleged rape is said to have occurred. Anya asked Ali if he had any comment on his arrest, he simply said, “I didn’t do it. I didn’t do it.” And that’s about all he would really say to her.

Jamal Ali is a level 3 sex offender, the highest level. He is charged with multiple felonies for allegedly sexually assaulting an adult male with autism whom he met at this bus across the street from Ali’s apartment. He is a repeat offender who was convicted in 1984 of forcibly raping a 79-year-old woman. He was released in July, 2000 but re-arrested several times after that over parole violations. Ali’s parole end in February, 2009.

After this recent rape arrest, a Watervliet judge sent him to jail without bail. However, after a bail hearing in Albany County Court, Ali was released on probation under electronic monitoring device. It’s something that concerns Alexis Rivera, who owns Gentleman’s Corner Barbershop across the street. “It’s very concerning that I see what happened and he’s still on the streets,” said Rivera.

Albany County District Attorney David Soares had requested $25,000 cash bail, $50,000 bond and $75,000 partially secured bond. But he says the judge was hamstrung by strict guidelines within New York State’s bail reform laws. “People are pointing at the judge and saying the judge is somehow missing it. That’s not the truth at all,” said Soares. “The truth is, the bail statute as written right now forces a judge to only consider whether that person will come back to court. And that judge must apply the least restrictive condition. The least,” he added.

Soares is now asking lawmakers to return to Albany to change the law allowing judges to consider dangerousness when it comes to determining bail. The court did not impose any type of movement restriction on Jamal Ali, but he does need to abide by any order of protection and GPS monitoring for 60 days.

Watervliet Police Chief Joseph Centenni offered this statement to News10 regarding Jamal Ali:

“We share the communities justifiable concerns regarding Mr. Ali’s freedom of movement while he awaits trial for such severe and violent offenses. However, the department has no control over a defendants’ condition of release. What our department can control is our unrelenting commitment to the neighborhoods we serve which includes removing dangerous criminals from our streets.” 
-Chief Joseph Centenni/Watervliet Police

There are others who strongly disagree with DA Soares. Marvin Mayfield, Director of Organizing at the Center for Community Alternatives, released the following statement: “District Attorney Soares’ insistence on misrepresenting the facts about bail reform is simply an attempt to cover for his own failures by demonizing an important state law. The standard he maligns – “the least restrictive means to assure a person returns to court”- is a constitutional standard, not a new concept created by bail reform. Furthermore, in the case he cites, the Watervliet man was in fact eligible for bail as is true for all alleged sex crimes under bail reform. The judge, having evaluated the facts of the case, made a decision with all options available at their disposal. What DA Soares appears to want is not more discretion for judges, but the unchecked power to indefinitely jail all people who are simply accused of a crime with no due process protections. It is time we actually focus on what creates safety: sustained investments in community support, anti-violence programs, housing, healthcare, education, and mental health services.”

Original Article – https://www.news10.com/news/da-blames-bail-reform-for-sex-offenders-release/