Bail reform has been a controversial topic over the last few years, ever since its passage in 2019.
New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams says he wants to make changes to the law, possibly by giving judges more leeway when it comes to determining who qualifies for pretrial detention.
Gov. Kathy Hochul also has been signaling her support and said on Monday she is willing to work with the Legislature to make changes as well.
“We will get it done,” Governor Hochul said. “We will work closely with Eric Adams to make the changes if necessary and first of all, protect public safety number one but ensure we have system of true justice for all individuals as well.”
The New York State Legislature first made changes to the state’s bail laws in 2019, by ruling out the use of money bail and pretrial detention for nearly all misdemeanor and nonviolent felony charges.
After some pushback from communities around the state, lawmakers made changes to the law in 2020, by adding back a few nonviolent felonies to the list of crimes in which judges can again set money bail.
Republicans have rallied against bail reform since the beginning and with the rise in violent crime across New York, Republicans are now again pointing to these laws saying the two are connected.
Advocates disagree with this claim, saying that money bail heightened wealth inequity and racism.
However, this issue has become campaign fodder and state Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy says he will be touring the state with this message.
“We need to clean up the streets,” Langworthy said. “We need to keep people safe in their homes, in their communities, and we are going to make sure that the voters in every community in this state understand who was responsible for bringing this to you.”
Although top leaders in the state seem to be in support of making changes, they will first have to go through the Legislature.
Deputy Senate Majority Leader Mike Gianaris says he for one will not be supporting any changes to the bail reform law.
“We believe there needs to be fairness in a system,” Senator Gianaris said. “That's why we made it so that your incarceration doesn't depend on whether you have money in your pocket or not. This is a lot of fearmongering, a lot of attempts to scare voters for political advantage. It did not work in 2020. I do not believe this is going to work in 2022.”
This issue is bound to be a test for Gov. Kathy Hochul as she navigates her first legislative session next year.