Last year, New York took a historic leap forward and passed bail reforms that significantly expand pretrial freedom and ended cash bail in 90% of cases. This is a tremendous achievement and helped ensure that thousands of people were not in jail at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, a concerted effort fueled by fear, racism, and misinformation led to significant rollbacks of the reforms, meaning thousands more New Yorkers will be exposed to pretrial detention in less than a month. These rollbacks will exacerbate racial disparities, increase the jail population across the state, and expose thousands more legally innocent people to jails that are ill equipped to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
There’s still a chance for us to preserve the historic reforms passed in 2019 and keep as many New Yorkers as possible safe during and after this pandemic. The Governor has the power to indefinitely delay implementation of the rollbacks, and we have to make clear that this is something he MUST do. Everyone who cares about racial justice and the presumption of innocence must stand strong and take action to protect the reforms from rollbacks. New Yorkers are depending on it.