SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is set to testify Tuesday, as the fight for bail reform continues here in Massachusetts. Only defendants can appeal bail decisions, but the mayor and other Hampden County officials are trying to pass new legislation that would allow prosecutors to do the same.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno submitted testimony last week to the Commonwealth’s Joint Committee on the Judiciary regarding House Bill 1839 which addresses bail reform. Local officials are pushing for this legislation to prevent repeat offenders from paying bail and immediately returning to the streets. Opponents of the bail reform bill believe the new rule would give prosecutors too much power.
The bill, HB1839, was sponsored by State Representative Angelo J. Puppolo, Jr.; it aims to reform bail requirements relative to repeat offenders. More information on the bill can be found on the state legislator’s website.
“When it becomes a revolving door and someone gets arraigned in the morning and is back out in the afternoon, causing even more trouble. We need to send a message that in the cases that it’s habitual offenders, the bail needs to be set at a reasonable amount as a deterrent,” said State Rep. Puppolo.
Law enforcement fears that if this bail reform bill isn’t passed crime will increase.
Sarno in his statement to the committee stated: “Too often, we see repeat violent offenders involved and charged with guns, drugs and other violent crimes back on our streets and in our community on low or no bail,” Mayor Sarno continued. “What message does this send to our residents and business community who work with our SPD to get these individuals off our streets and make our neighborhood safe, only to see them back in their neighborhoods within hours or days doing the same crime(s) they were originally arrested on. It is aggravating and frustrating for everyone.”
The Joint Committee on the Judiciary will be holding a virtual hearing for the bill on Tuesday.
It’s a story the 22News I-Team has been covering for years. Hampden County officials are fighting once again for bail reform in Massachusetts.
“It’s still a judge’s decision,” Puppolo explained. “But, it goes along the line of, defendants have a right to appeal an excessively high bail. I believe the Commonwealth should have the ability to appeal excessively low bail.”
According to Massachusetts Supreme Court Justice David Lowy, courts do not use bail as a form of punishment, but instead, as a way to ensure the defendant will show up for their next court date. The judge also has to consider the defendant’s financial resources when setting bail.