For years, countless New Yorkers could not afford pretrial bail. As a result, many of them got locked away for months, even years before their court date. But now, under the state’s new bail reform policies, they could get the fighting chance they deserve. In years past, countless lives got ruined and families got torn apart, decreasing many people’s chances of gaining upward mobility. Many stayed behind bars for years, not because they were dangerous, but because they couldn’t afford to get out.
Pushback from local authorities and some politicians
While the revisions went into effect on Jan. 1, law enforcement officials and others in opposition are looking at ways to avoid the recent changes. For instance, police unions and some prosecutors have issued warnings about the bail reform’s potential impact. According to a recent report, some prosecutors are even starting to learn different loopholes to maneuver around the new changes.
Crime in New York City is relatively low in comparison to other large metros. But, that hasn’t stopped some people from fearing that crime could run rampant across the city. On the contrary, the majority of accused offenders thrown in jail were not found guilty of the crimes they allegedly committed.
Even though Democrats spearheaded these reforms, some prominent state leaders have already suggested scaling back certain parts. Those leaders include Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, State Attorney General Letitia James and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
Mayor de Blasio and others express differing opinions
Despite rollback suggestions, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio praised the new bail revisions. However, Mr. de Blasio reportedly still stands behind, allowing judges to factor in the “dangerousness” of an offender when setting bail.
State House Speaker Carl Heastie has been an early supporter of bail reform and wants to remind others why he thinks these changes are necessary.
Jail is no longer the only answer
For years, many politicians and local officials offered simple solutions to complicated problems. Throwing the poor, mentally unstable and other disenfranchised communities in jail with high bail costs hurts more than just the accused. Over many years, the system has cost New York taxpayers a fortune in incarceration costs. Luckily, these new reforms are expected to reduce pretrial incarceration rates by 40%. By easing these burdens on those who cannot afford them, defendants now have a chance to get things in order before they go to trial.