New York, Delaware Join the List of States Rejecting Sweeping Bail Reform

Taking a more measured approach to criminal justice reform, New York and Delaware reject radical changes.  

Legislative sessions ended in New York and Delaware with legislation failing in both states to upend the procedures of criminal justice with radical reforms aimed at eliminating cash bail in both states.

In New York, the Senate adjourned leaving the comprehensive bail reform package failing to pass, thus rejecting the aggressive bail reform agenda pushed by various “bail disruptor” activist groups.

Interestingly, in New York there is no movement to use algorithmic justice, with over 100 advocacy groups in New York having sent the Governor a letter last year claiming that the algorithms would simply make the situation worse.

Sadly, reform advocates continue to focus on monetary bail as the problem, often citing the tragic case of Kaleif Browder.  Yet, advocates forget that Mr. Browder was stuck in jail for years on a low-level misdemeanor charge due a non-monetary hold – a violation of his probation from a prior charge.  Reform efforts would have done nothing unfortunately to remedy Browder’s situation.

“We were proud to work with our partners in this effort, including our key partner the New York State Bail Bondsman Association (NYSBBA).  NYSBBA’s leadership did yeoman’s work to stop this damaging legislation, and I commend them for their commitment and dedication to this issue. At every turn, NYSBBA was there to answer the call – from testimony to advocacy and education, they are the key spoke in the wheel to keeping New York safe from damaging reform efforts.”  - ABC Executive Director Jeff Clayton

In Delaware, the Senate failed to move legislation (SB-221, SB-222) that sought to change the constitution in Delaware to allow for preventative detention and expand state run pretrial release services in an effort to duplicate New Jersey’s bail system.

Despite reports that suggest that former Vice President and Delaware royalty Joe Biden was campaigning in the background to influence key votes, bail reform legislation died on Sunday as the session ended – even after SB-221 had been defeated a week before the session ended and then rescinded in a desperate last effort to pass it.

Aside from the enormous financial burden these reforms would have placed on the backs of taxpayers, questions on the implications of what preventative detention and the expansion of risk assessments would look like in The First State were heavily debated as more evidence that preventative detention and risk assessments actually increase mass incarceration have surfaced. Research continues to mount that these types of reforms increase mass incarceration and are not validated to be race and gender neutral which has haunted reformers efforts to promote the “no money” bail system.

“It’s clear that the issues in New Jersey that have resulted from the passing of the NJ Bail Reform Act is weighing on legislators in the neighboring state of Delaware. The rash of unaccountable releases resulting from bail reform has been no secret in the Garden State – and when you add the failing Arnold risk assessment tool, the lack of transparency in reporting the performance of the new law, and the burden on taxpayers with the Judiciary now requesting millions more to fund the program, it’s pretty clear why legislators would give pause to enacting similar legislation. The small but effective group of bail agents in Delaware are as dedicated as any and complemented our engagement with real boots on the ground when it was needed the most.” - ABC Executive Director Jeff Clayton

New York and Delaware have now joined the chorus of other state legislatures that are beginning to see the cracks in the bail reform movement, and rather than adopting some version of the no money bail system are instead sending reform architects back to the drawing table.

“What really strikes me is sad is that the expansion of preventative detention and non-bailable holds is the central reason in most jurisdictions that we have high rates of pretrial incarceration.  This is a key issue where reformers, I think, may be missing an opportunity.” - ABC Executive Director Jeff Clayton

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