New York Lawmakers Must Continue the Fight to Protect Bail Reform

ALBANY, NY – New York State Director for Criminal Justice Reform Rodney Holcombe issued the following statement today on the need to protect New York’s 2019 bail reforms from further amendment:

“New York’s 2019 bail reform, even after the 2020 partial roll backs, is still protecting thousands of New Yorkers from unjust and life-threatening pretrial jailing – all without jeopardizing public safety. Lawmakers absolutely must prioritize protecting it from further amendments that would increase the statewide jail population.

“We’re troubled by the implication that the 2019 bail reforms need further amendment. The recent and worsening crisis at Rikers has demonstrated the high cost of rolling back bail reform in 2020, and New Yorkers are paying the price with their lives.

“We agree that the safety of all New Yorkers must be held paramount in all of our state laws. The 2019 bail reform was the result of years of development with a broad and diverse coalition of stakeholders, from law enforcement to victim advocates to the families of those who have lost loved ones to pretrial incarceration. It was also grounded in evidence-based practices that have been proven to keep communities safer. The 2020 rollbacks were swift, reactionary, and fueled by politics, not facts. The rollbacks helped to fuel the dangerous conditions at Rikers and other jails across the state, and led to an unnecessary uptick in the pretrial jail population during the COVID-19 pandemic. The fact is that New York’s bail reform has not been tied to any of the recent increases in homicides or violence, neither of which are unique to New York and which have plagued rural, suburban, and urban communities across the country.

“New Yorkers need their policymakers to prioritize public policy that truly delivers safety across our communities – both in and outside our prisons and jails. We have the evidence-based playbook to reduce crime, violence, and incarceration at the same time, and we look forward to working with Mayor Elect Adams on public policy that does just that.”

In response to the fear-mongering and misinformation around bail reform, released a report, “Freedom, Then the Press: New York Media and Bail Reform,” highlighting the NY media’s handling of the reform laws and its effect on the eventual bail rollbacks. Read the full report here.

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