NEW YORK STATE LEGISLATURE VOTES TO SUBSTANTIALLY ROLL-BACK CONTROVERSIAL BAIL REFORM LAWS

Increase In Crime Created Enormous Public Backlash

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Franklinville, NJ (April 11, 2022) – After enduring withering criticism from the public, which demanded action in the wake of a huge increase in crime, the New York legislature voted late Friday (April 8) to substantially roll back the state's controversial bail reform laws, nearly three years after they were first passed.

The measures included prohibiting the setting of bail of defendants by judges for "lesser" crimes.  Instead, these individuals were simply released on their own recognizance pending trial.  The changes were included as part of the state's annual budget, which was delayed by a week over the issue.

Changes to the law will expand judicial discretion to set monetary bail in many more cases, including a wide variety of misdemeanor charges that had previously been excluded.  They include but are not limited to various gun charges, harms to persons, harms to property, thefts where part of a criminal enterprise and not negligible amounts, and cases where a person already on release for a serious crime commits a new crime.

Bail reform laws were passed in 2019, but rising crime throughout the state soon resulted in lawmakers being pressured from both the left and right calling for the measures to be curtailed.

According to a Siena College poll released in March, 64 percent of New Yorkers believed that bail reform was bad for the state, while 82 percent felt that judges needed greater discretion to set bail.

“These are evidence-based moves away from the existing flawed system of basing bail solely on the charge lodged and denying judges the ability to evaluate the circumstances of each individual defendant,” said Jeff Clayton, Executive Director of the American Bail Coalition.  “In their zeal to protect the indigent -- which is absolutely a worthy endeavor -- the backers of the original bail reform laws allowed a recidivist criminal element to take extreme advantage of the statute.  Unfortunately, this overshadowed the gains that were made on behalf of the indigent in the pretrial system.  This change goes a long way toward fixing that problem.”

Governor Kathy Hochul is expected to sign the budget legislation this week.  Her office recently championed a ten-point public safety plan upon which the final bail reforms appear to be based.

About the American Bail Coalition

The American Bail Coalition is dedicated protecting the Constitutional right to bail and the promotion, protection and advancement of the surety bail profession in the United States. Comprised of the nation’s largest surety insurance companies, ABC works with local communities, law enforcement, legislators and other criminal justice stakeholders to utilizes its expertise and knowledge of the surety bail industry to develop more effective and efficient criminal justice solutions.  www.ambailcoalition.org

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