State Watch

Watchdog: Bail reform not to blame for higher crime in NYC


New York City’s fiscal watchdog is refuting the idea that bail reform has led to higher crime. 

A report released Tuesday from City Comptroller Brad Lander showed that both the number and percentage of re-arrests of people on pretrial release were lower two years after the reform efforts took effect, eliminating most pretrial incarcerations. 

Claims connecting bail reform and higher crime have long persisted among police leaders, unions and some politicians, but they often lack evidence to back them up, according to The Associated Press

“We think it’s important that policy making follows facts rather than fear,” Lander told the AP.

“We wanted to take a look at the data on bail trends and understand what is really happening. The conversation on bail reform has gotten divorced from that data,” he added.

In 2019, New York passed sweeping reforms prohibiting bail for many nonviolent felonies and requiring judges to consider a person’s ability to pay when setting bail, among other changes.

Criminal justice advocates supported the change as a way to bring more equity to the system that favors wealthy defendants who can easily pay for their release while others are unable to pay for small bail amounts and remain in jail for low-level offenses, the AP reported.

But New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has a plan to make more crimes eligible for detention and give judges more leeway when setting bail amounts.

New York Mayor Eric Adams (D) has also called for adjustments to bail reform amid the city’s spiking gun violence rates. The former New York City police captain said New York is the only state where judges do not take a defendant’s criminal history and potential “dangerousness” into consideration about decisions surrounding bail, the AP added.

Tags Bail Bail in the United States Bail Reform Kathy Hochul New York New York

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