Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announces that a total of 24 convicted defendants with 45 days or less remaining on their sentences have been released from the custody of Erie County jails in an effort to lower inmate populations and reduce the potential spread of COVID-19. As New York State begins its re-opening phases, DA Flynn will no longer proactively seek to release those convicted of low-level offenses from jail.
Erie County DA Flynn consented to a motion filed by the Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo requesting, in the interest of justice, that individuals who have 45 days or less remaining on their sentence be released. A hearing was held on May 29, 2020, allowing two defendants who were convicted of low-level, non-violent offenses to be let out of jail early. The motion was granted that morning by State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller.
DA Flynn previously consented to other motions requesting the early release of locally jailed defendants. A motion was granted by Erie County Court Judge Susan Eagan on April 7, 2020, allowing for the release of 17 individuals from the Holding Center or the Erie County Correctional Facility. Another motion was granted on April 17, 2020 by State Supreme Court Justice Mark A. Montour, allowing for the release of two more sentenced individuals. On May 5, 2020, State Supreme Court Justice Deborah A. Haendiges granted a motion allowing the release of three defendants. All were convicted of non-violent, low-level offenses with 45 days or less remaining on their jail sentences.
“I understand that COVID-19 has the potential to spread rapidly through a jail. In the interest of justice and public health, I consented to the release of these individuals to serve the remainder of their sentence at home. As Governor Cuomo moves forward with the re-opening phases in New York State and no COVID-19 outbreaks are reported in our local jails, I will no longer be proactively seeking cases to review. I believe the motions that my office has consented to thus far have significantly reduced the number of people in our jails,” said Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn.
The Erie County District Attorney’s Office will review bail applications submitted by defense attorneys on behalf of pre-trail detainees as we did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, like the release of sentenced prisoners, the DA’s Office will be reverting to pre-COVID 19 legal analysis. The DA’s Office will consent or oppose those motions on a case-by-case basis.
As of June 1, 2020, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office has reviewed a total of 128 bail motions. The District Attorney’s Office consented to the release of 34 pre-trial defendants. Another 28 pre-trial detainees had their bail modified.