CLIFTON PARK – State Sen. James Tedisco has called for a special session of the state legislature to repeal “catch and release” bail reform.
Friday, Tedisco, R-Glenville, was joined with local law enforcement and family of the late John Lee, who was fatally stabbed in June. Tedisco said the reforms made to bail are not working. The group called for the governor and legislature to hold a special session to pass Tedisco’s legislation which would repeal bail reform.
“We’ve got to get those [two bills] passed, we’ve got to go back and do this right,” Tedisco said. “We’ve got to make sure that these individuals who are violent are getting off the streets. But just as important were providing some mental healthcare maybe for some individuals who have those problems or some anger management as a qualifier for these individuals when we take them off the street. But definitely when we have a violent situation like this, they have to be taken off the street.”
Tedisco and Tammy Patrick shared the story of her father John Lee’s death.
“John Lee was allegedly killed by Thomas Quillan, who was arrested and charged with assaulting another man the day day before this murder, and then released,” Tedisco said. “Prior to the bail reform law passing the judge would have had the discretion of being able to hold the defendant on bail, preventing the loss of life.”
Tedisco said Quillan had been arrested the day prior to Lee’s for third degree assault, a class A misdemeanor. He said this is a non-qualifiable offense for bail.
Tedisco and Patrick believe if a judge would have been able to keep Quillan in jail Lee may be alive now. Patrick spoke of the holidays and gatherings she now misses sending with her father, and she called for discretion to be given to judges in situations like this
“It is time to give the power back to the judges and keep violent criminals off the street,” Patrick said. “If this had happened before, my dad might just still be with us here today. I do not want any other family to go through this trauma and grief that we have all experienced.”
Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo said they will continue to get their message out there about issues they have with bail reform. He said most importantly the governor needs to listen to and speak with the victims and the victim’s families.
“We’re going to continue to get our message across and hopefully they’ll come back, they’ll listen to us listen to us, that’s what we’re asking for is a place at the table,” Zurlo said.
Tedisco said he was confident Gov. Kathy Hochul would listen to his call for a special session, but he was not confident she would hear him.
“There’s a difference between listening and really hearing what someone is saying,” Tedisco said. “It’s like taking it to heart.”
Hochul was questioned about bail reform and rising gun violence at a press conference about recent gun seizures last week. Hochul said that violence has risen in other states which did not chance their bail protocols. She explained the original bail reform package has been amended twice, with the most recent amendment taking effect less than three months ago, she called for it to be given a chance to work.