New York Bail Reform: Bipartisan Chorus Of Local And State Officials Call For Repeal Of Bail Reform As Local Judge Declares The Law Unconstitutional

New York Bail Reform: Bipartisan Chorus Of Local And State Officials Call For Repeal Of Bail Reform As Local Judge Declares The Law Unconstitutional


It’s been a busy week in the Empire State of New York as the repeal of “catch and release” bail reform continues to draw bipartisan support…

For states considering similar policies…you’ve been warned.

The fallout of New York’s bail reform continued this week as critics of the new law blasted the restricting of judicial discretion to set bail by issuing automatic get-out-of-jail free cards.

First, a bipartisan coalition of law enforcement leaders and other important state officials from around the State of New York stormed the Capitol building on February 3, 2020, assembling on the 444 steps of the so-called “Million Dollar Steps” in Albany.  At the rally, Mayor Steve Buckley said: “This dangerous and misguided [bail reform] legislation needs to be repealed.”

Second, the Chair of the New York State Democratic Party, Jay Jacobs, recently said that the bail reform law is “going to be a problem if we don’t do something.”  In fact, the public outrage and ire with the law is so overwhelming that Jacobs is worried, according to the New York Post, “Democratic lawmakers running for re-election in competitive districts this fall could be defeated if Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Democrat-run Legislature refuse to revise the controversial bail reform law that lets loose dangerous criminal defendants.”  Said Jacobs: “More Democratic seats will be put at risk — and it will be tough — if we don’t do something.”

RELATEDJay Jacobs, chair of New York state Democratic Party, urges changes to bail reforms

Third, a local judge ruled on February 3, 2020 that the bail reform law was unconstitutional, although the order has apparently been stayed for a period of two weeks.  In the order, Judge Thomas Marcelle held that the bail reform law was unconstitutional insofar as it constrained judicial discretion by preventing judges from imposing monetary bail in situations where other non-monetary conditions would be more restrictive.

RELATEDCohoes judge issues order challenging state’s bail reform law

In the Order, Judge Marcelle wrote…

The second restriction that the legislature placed upon the judiciary is to deny judges the ability to set bail in a certain category of cases.  It is this categorical prohibition on judicial discretion that raises the question of whether the legislature impermissibly trespassed upon the judicial power.

Discretion to determine the means—including setting cash bail—for securing a defendant’s appearance in court is essential to a court’s ability to efficiently control the course of a criminal proceeding.

Finally, Sarah Wallace at NBC News 4 in New York recently did an NB4 I-Team report that noted that the battle over bail reform is raging, due to the intent of the law which was to release without bail 90% of defendants who otherwise would be stuck in jail without supervision or any other monitoring.

Thirty-Six days and counting and the results of New York’s failed bail reform are clear…it’s not working.  According to the NYPD, total crime is up 16.9%, shootings up 28.8%, shooting victims up 41%, auto thefts up 72.5%, robbery up 36.8%, grand larceny up 10.7%, and felony assaults up 7.9%.

Perhaps Sheriff Errol Toulon, Jr. of Suffolk County said it best…

“Bail reform is negatively impacting the poor, the victims of crime, and the quality of life in our state.”

Sheriff Errol Toulon, Jr speaks at the law enforcement rally in Albany to repeal New York's bail reform.

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