Most New Yorkers Support Changes to Bail Reform Law, while Many NY Legislators Remain Ambivalent
By Yehudit Garmaise
While it took months for New York legislators to hammer out changes to the state’s 2019 bail reform law that allowed criminals out of jail without bail, New Yorker voters overwhelmingly and clearly support new, updated changes, according to a Siena College survey released on Monday.
The bail reform law preceded a still-increasing spike in violent crimes as greater numbers of perpetrators, who no longer had to post bail, were quickly returned to the streets to commit more crimes.
Two-thirds of registered voters reported that they supported bail reform changes that provide judges with discretion on whether they can require bail and jail defendants who clearly pose a continued danger to society.
To determine whether perpetrators are “dangerous,” judges now will be allowed to consider whether the defendants have committed crimes that involve guns, violated protection orders, and/or been arrested repeatedly.
While Gov. Kathy Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams, and NYPD Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell pushed for the changes to bail reform as part of their wide-ranging efforts to drive down crime, many Democratic legislators who see bail unfairly meted out to black and brown New Yorkers resisted any changes.
While many Democrats said that the bail reform law was being “scapegoated” for the rise in crime and that changes will only lead to more biased rulings, after Mayor Adams rolled out his new anti-gun units on March 14, the Neighborhood Safety Units reported that the vast majority of criminals whom they are arresting are repeat offenders who perhaps should not be back on the streets.
While Sen. Majority leader Andrea Stewart-Counsins and Speaker of the Assembly Carl Heastie merely disagreed with Hochul and Adams, on March 22 Assemblywoman Latrice Walker undertook a nine-day hunger strike, to protest any changes to the bail reform legislation that she sponsored in 2018.