ALBANY, NY – FWD.us released a new poll today conducted by Global Strategy Group that demonstrates continued overwhelming support for the policies behind New York’s 2019 bail reform. In fact, 63% of New York voters support “ending the policy of jailing people who have been accused but not convicted of misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies while they wait for their day in court.” The highest support comes from New York City, but there is strong support in the suburbs and in the rest of the state, as well. Majorities of Democrats and non-affiliated voters support bail reform (Dem: 75%/18%, independent/blank: 56%/37%). Among the state’s Republican voters, support for bail reform outweighs opposition at 47% support/42% oppose. A majority of voters who are undecided in a generic ballot for State Senate also support bail reform. The poll was conducted from March 10 to March 16.
Not only do voters support bail reform; they also want lawmakers to prioritize issues other than bail rollbacks right now. Crime and criminal justice are at the bottom of the list of issues voters are prioritizing, far behind health care, taxes, jobs and the economy, and housing.
“Now that constant fearmongering and false attacks are out of the headlines, broad and deep support for bail reform is evident once again. New York voters support bail reforms that keep more families together, reduce bias in the system, and protect more legally innocent people from incarceration. Elected officials in Albany must listen to voters and reject any attempts to change the historic reforms that are keeping thousands of New Yorkers at home with their families. Maximizing pretrial freedom should always be the rule, so it is especially callous and irresponsible to consider subjecting thousands more New Yorkers to unnecessary pretrial jailing with limited access to medical care amidst a global pandemic. Incarceration exponentially aggravates the threat of COVID-19 for all New Yorkers, be they incarcerated or free. New York needs to be focusing on expanding pretrial freedom now and in the future, not restricting it with rollbacks.” – Rena Karefa-Johnson, FWD.us New York Director of Criminal Justice Reform
Further, voters supported the principles that drove the passage of bail reform last session:
- 76% of voters believe New York should reduce racial bias in its criminal justice system.
- 63% of voters believe jailing people who have not been convicted of a crime violates their presumption of innocence.
- 56% of voters believe there should be fewer people incarcerated in New York State jails.
When talking about bail reform, language matters. When voters are asked about a pretrial reform in terms of using less money bail instead of ensuring freedom, support shrinks. For example, in this poll, support for “ensuring people charged with misdemeanor and non-violent felony charges await their day in court at home without having to pay money bail” dropped to 55% support/36% oppose statewide compared to 63% support for “ending the policy of jailing people who have been accused but not convicted of misdemeanors or non-violent felonies while they wait for their day in court.” This distinction may explain why the results of this poll differ from responses to recent Siena poll questions about bail reform.