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Vote Now: New Poll Says Most Think New Bail Reform Laws Are Bad For NY - What Do You Think?

New Yorkers are turning on the new bail reform laws that took effect on Jan. 1.
New Yorkers are turning on the new bail reform laws that took effect on Jan. 1. Photo Credit: File

New Yorkers have turned against the new bail reform laws that ended cash bail for all misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenders in New York, according to a new poll.

Do You Support The New Bail Reform Laws?
Final Results Voting Closed

Do You Support The New Bail Reform Laws?

  • Yes.
  • No.
  • To be determined.

As of Wednesday, Jan. 1, thousands of inmates throughout the state were put back on the streets due to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s bail reform legislation, which marked the end of cash bail for misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenders that were previously incarcerated.

The reform has come under fire from both the community, some law enforcement agencies, and elected officials, who believe that Cuomo should revisit the law for possible changes in the legislation.

According to a new Siena poll, 49 percent of New York State voters say the new policy is “bad” for New York compared to 37 percent who say it’s “good.” Last April, 55 percent of New Yorkers backed the law.

The Siena poll surveyed 814 voters from Jan. 11 through Jan. 16 and has a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points.

“Certainly, all the attention this new law has gotten across the state has had an impact with voters and it is clear that a sizable number of New Yorkers, who were optimistic that the new bail law would be good for the state, now believe the law is bad for New York,” Siena pollster Steven Greenberg said.

Officials noted that in addition to the safety concerns of repeat offenders and potentially violent criminals walking the streets, those released will never enter correctional facilities and make sure of programs and services available while they are incarcerated.

“Inmates often detox upon entering the facility, coming off of drugs and alcohol in a safe environment,” a law enforcement official said. “They can then begin addiction programs, therapy programs, high school equivalency classes, specialized youth, and elderly housing areas, and more. If these offenders are not remanded by the courts, the chances of them entering a program are very slim.”

Under the new legislation, the following have been deemed “non-violent:"

  • Third-degree assault;
  • Aggravated vehicular assault;
  • Aggravated assault upon a person under the age of 11;
  • Criminally negligent homicide;
  • Aggravated vehicular homicide;
  • Second-degree manslaughter;
  • Unlawful imprisonment;
  • First-degree coercion;
  • Third and fourth-degree arson;
  • First-degree grand larceny;
  • Criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds or criminal possession of a firearm;
  • Some drug offenses involving the use of children;
  • Promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child;
  • Possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child, and;
  • Promoting a sexual performance by a child.

Despite the opposition, many have come forward in support of the new legislation, citing projections that jail populations could decrease statewide by as much as 40 percent.

The New Yorker United for Justice Chief Strategist Khalil Cumberbatch said that the poll “has made it clear that much work remains needed to broadly educate the public on the benefits of pretrial reforms, and that is exactly what NYUJ will continue to do for the long haul.”

“Unfortunately, months of fear-mongering and misinformation have had an effect, as defenders of a broken status quo commit to frightening New Yorkers instead of coming together to make sure much-needed reforms are working as intended,” he said.

“And the new system can work: look no further than Kings County, in which DA Gonzalez eliminated cash bail for misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies three years ago - and violent crime is down 18 percent. We don’t have to choose between fairness and safety.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in his budget address this week that before making any changes, “let’s understand the facts, understand the consequences, discuss it intelligently, rationally, and in a sober way, and then let’s make the decisions that we need to make.”

Advocates for anti-bail legislation noted that pretrial detention increases the likelihood that a person will be rearrested, because “it worsens the root drivers of harm and crime: poverty, trauma, housing instability, unmet mental health needs, and untreated substance use disorders. Even holding someone pretrial for )two or three) days can increase the likelihood that certain defendants will commit new crimes before trial.”

Nate Khader, the Executive Director of the WESPAC Foundation noted that, "the new reforms allow us to finally move beyond an unequal and racist system of justice that locked up countless of innocent people in Westchester who were too poor to pay bail.

“Despite the continued fear-mongering, these changes go hand in hand with making our communities safer. For too long we've wasted our money on filling jail beds rather than making common-sense investments in our communities that will actually address the root drivers of crime and violence, and save taxpayer dollars in the long-run. We need to keep moving forward, not backward." 

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