ALBANY, N.Y. (PIX11) – Democrats remain skeptical of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s push to tweak recent criminal justice reforms like bail reform.
“Bail reform is not driving the increase in crime,” said New York City Comptroller Brad Lander.
Lander said he crunched the numbers from 2019 to 2021 during which time bail reform was implemented and tweaked. He said state and city data shows people who were released while awaiting trial did not commit more crimes after bail reform was implemented.
“We do need to be investing in communities to decrease crime, but rolling back bail reform is not going to get it done,” Lander said.
In a new editorial in the Daily News, Hochul and Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin, once a big proponent of bail reform, concede the basic point made by Lander — that letting more people out of jail while awaiting trial has not led to the increase in overall crime. However, they still argue three specific improvements to the states bail system are necessary:
- Repeat offenders already out while awaiting trial should be subject to arrest and bail.
- All felony gun cases should involve bail, even when a gun is sold or given to a minor, which is not currently a bail eligible crime
- Violent crimes should be subject to more pre-trial restrictions. They argue this is not the much talked about “dangerousness” standard but allowing judges to look at specific criteria like previous criminal history.
Much of the editorial focuses on other efforts to curb the rise in crime, which Benjamin mentioned repeatedly when he was asked about bail reform Tuesday.
“This is a public safety plan that is broader than bail reform. We’re talking about mental health, we’re talking about pretrial services,” he said.
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, currently negotiating possible changes as part of the budget, indicated Democrats in the Senate remain skeptical about things done at this 11th hour.
“When we did it with our bail laws, we did it with the ideas if you were a misdemeanor, non-violent felonies you don’t need to be staying in jail for two years or three years or whatever because you don’t have money,” she said. “Nobody in our conference is wanting to go backwards.”