Huge drug busts renew passionate push for bail reform

That proposal is still pending at the State House

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – On the heels of several large drug busts in Springfield, West Springfield and Holyoke, there’s a push for bail reform.

Over the past 30 days more than 53,000 bags of heroin have been taken off the streets. Several high-level drug dealers and traffickers are off the street, but for how long?

“Five out of the six heavy hitters made bail. Back on the streets. They weren’t huge amounts of bail. Where did that money come from? Dirty money?” asked Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.

City leaders and law enforcement officials are renewing their passionate call for reform of the justice system.

“I sometimes think the whole justice system is fractured. It doesn’t work very well. We have repeat offenders who we re-arrest,” said Holyoke Police Chief James Neiswanger.

Judges are limited by state statute on what they can impose for bail, but District Attorney Anthony Gulluni told 22News they do have some freedom.

“Judges here to a large extent do a very good job and operate on the law and through their experiences to do the best job they can and make sound decisions, but sometimes we disagree with those decision and we think they are counter to our interest for public safety,” said D.A. Gulluni.

That’s why D.A. Gulluni, along with Mayor Sarno and others drafted legislation in 2015 that would give state prosecutors the right to appeal what they consider a bad bail decision just like a defendant.

“It pains me when I continue to see on my hot list reports, repeat violent offenders who we are picking up and the system for whatever rhyme or reason is letting go. They said change the law. I put it in writing now,” remarked Mayor Sarno.

That proposal is still pending at the State House. District Attorney Gulluni said they remain committed to locking up repeat violent offenders while getting addicts the help they need to get clean.