Read full articles here: The New York Times, Daily News, Times Union, AMNY, New York Law Journal, Spectrum News, WBFO-NPR, Adirondack Daily Enterprise, CBS 2 New York, Watch: Bail Reform Press Conference, Patch
Across the country, a tragic rise in homicides has Americans rightly searching for solutions to advance public safety. Unfortunately, opponents of bail reform in New York continue to fearmonger and spread misinformation about bail laws, inaccurately linking the increases in homicide to these reforms. In fact, data proves that bail reforms are working as intended – to safely and significantly reduce unnecessary pretrial jailing. In recent days, a growing list of New York state legislators have publicly countered the misinformation and expressed their continued support of the bail reforms, reforms that have spared tens of thousands of New Yorkers from harmful and disruptive pretrial jailing because they don’t have enough money to buy their freedom.
Below is a look at recent coverage and resources calling out fearmongering around the reforms, information on why we should protect them, and on why New York must invest in real solutions that will make New York’s communities and families safer:
In The New York Times, legislative leaders defend bail laws and remain firm to protect them:
“Can we stop blaming bail reform when the sun comes up?” Carl E. Heastie, the Assembly speaker, said …“Please stop just trying to make political fodder because we think it’ll make for good campaigns.”
“…We are concerned, as everyone is, about a spike in crime,” [Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the majority leader in the State Senate] said. “But there is no connection between our bail reform and the national spike in crime…”
“The mayor’s tone addressing people’s anxiety and fears is welcome, said [State Senator Zellnor Myrie]…But I think that any decision that we make as it pertains to criminal justice reform has to be rooted in justice and data, not fear and fearmongering.”
“It’s up to me to ensure that the tenets of a bill that I believe very strongly in are understood,” [Latrice Walker, Assembly member] said. “And that people aren’t allowing six-second sound bites to dictate their displeasure with a policy that has helped hundreds of thousands of people across the State of New York.”
In a recent press conference, state legislative leaders show their support for bail reform and call to protect the laws:
“There’s a lot of misinformation out there about bail reform, but the facts are the facts. Bail reform is not responsible for the recent spike in gun violence in the city. The state’s own data shows that only 2 percent of the cases that would fall under the bail reform law led to a rearrest for a violent felony. Even fewer were rearrested for crimes involving a gun. What we need are targeted investments in violence prevention, including housing, mental health care, drug treatment and harm reduction services — not more cages, said Assemblywoman Latrice Walker.”
“…The harms of our prior bail law are what took Kalief Browder and so many from us. We cannot tweak systemic racism. But we can legislate with data and research and both are clear that ‘dangerousness standards’ lead to arbitrary and racist judicial decision-making. The Mayor has said he will not take New York City backwards, so let’s look forward, get creative and advance solutions that actually keep everyone safe…said Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas.”
“Too much is at stake to even consider going backwards in our collective work to end decades of over-incarceration, said Senator Julia Salazar.” “Locking people up, particularly prior to any determination of guilt, has never worked as a solution to crime. In fact, it has resulted in enormous harm and trauma, disproportionately experienced by people of color and low-income communities. I am confident the legislature will continue to implement and expand community-based, restorative, non-carceral solutions that provide necessary resources for education, health, mental health, and services rather than reverting to the old, failed, and racist model of sending people to jail and pretending that by doing so we have enhanced public safety. We will not go back on the historic bail reform laws. We will move forward towards a more just criminal legal system.”
Recent editorials and articles across New York have also highlighted the need to stop fear mongering, protect reforms that safely reduce incarceration, and commit to investing in violence prevention, mental healthcare, housing, and other evidence-based approaches that work to reduce gun violence and crime.
In the Daily News, statewide community organizer Marvin Mayfield writes:
“The misinformation on bail reform — at the highest levels — is blatant. Mayor Adams, for example, blamed bail reform for the accidental shooting of a police officer by a 16-year old New Yorker. Nothing about the proceedings in this case was impacted by bail reform. As with all other gun charges, the defendant was eligible to have bail set, just as he would have been prior to bail reform. The judge set a high bail, and the defendant paid it. While Adams may not like the outcome, the case has nothing to do with this policy.”
This Times Union article lays out how falsely blaming bail reform prevents lawmakers from delivering on real solutions to reduce violence:
“The obsession with linking “bail reform” to seemingly every issue regardless of the relevance is actively harmful to preventing gun violence because it distracts from any actual solutions…”
“No one is more dedicated to this approach in New York state than suburban Republicans…they have spent the past two years misinforming the public on the issue and recently launched a new proposal demanding more money for law enforcement while gutting community programs proven to reduce violence.”
This AMNY opinion piece, author Rodney Holcombe, NY state director at FWD.us, makes clear that there’s no direct link between bail reform and an increase in violence:
“One fact remains clear – there is no direct link between bail reform and the recent crime spike. Over the last two years, opponents of the bail law have used it to distract lawmakers from addressing the real and often difficult solutions that will have an impact on public safety – reigning in illegal guns and strengthening social services like housing, mental health care, education, and youth job programs. Leaping on reactionary measures with no evidence base will only make us all less safe in the long run.”
This Spectrum News segment emphasizes the harm of considering a dangerousness standard:
“Adding a “dangerousness” standard to New York’s law that largely ended cash bail requirements for many criminal charges would be too subjective, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said.”
Advocates on Inside City Hall – including MK Kaishian of public policy advocacy organization Zealous and Marie Ndiaye from the Legal Aid Society – discuss the importance of protecting New York bail laws to keep all New Yorkers safer.
And a new site,“Justice Not Fear,” tracks news stories and public statements about the impact of pretrial reform and reviews them to correct false and misleading information, provide additional context, and promote accurate coverage. The project serves as an ongoing resource for lawmakers, advocates, reporters, and the public to provide accurate and accessible information from legal and policy experts to help key stakeholders understand, discuss, and set policy around bail and other criminal justice reforms.