NEW YORK (PIX11) — Despite strong critique of New York’s bail reform in recent years, Gov. Kathy Hochul stood by it during her State of the State Address on Tuesday, though she said there was room for change.
Hochul has previously said blaming bail laws for crime is “absurd.” She reiterated Tuesday that bail reform is not the primary driver of crime.
“The size of someone’s bank account should not determine whether they sit in jail or go home, even before they’ve been convicted,” she said.
Some changes have already been made so that more criminal defendants can be sent to jail before their trials. Changes also allow judges to set bail for more gun crimes, hate crimes and repeat offenses. Hochul said she feels there’s room for more change.
“As leaders, we cannot ignore that, when we hear so often from New Yorkers that crime is their top concern,” she said. “And so, to my partners in the legislature, let’s start with this shared understanding and have a thoughtful conversation during the budget process about improvements we can make to the law.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has pushed Hochul before to change the state’s bail laws. In a December interview with PIX11, he said the “catch, release, repeat system” is his focus. After Hochul’s speech Tuesday, he thanked the governor for doubling down “on the investment and innovation needed to keep New Yorkers safe.”
“At the same time, the investments to prevent recidivism and provide wraparound services will help address the feeders of criminal behavior — a critical prevention step,” Adams said.
New York’s Legal Aid Society critiqued Hochul’s plan to change bail reform laws. While a spokesperson lauded some of her plans, the group noted Hochul’s “call to eliminate a requirement that pretrial incarceration for bail-eligible charges be the ‘least restrictive’ option accomplishes nothing of value and is in tension with well-established United States Supreme Court precedent protecting the presumption of innocence.”
“As legislative leaders have noted, continuing to falsely scapegoat bail reform only distracts from community investments and reforms like the Treatment Not Jails Act and Clean Slate,” the Legal Aid Society spokesperson said.