New data proves bail reform has both worked and failed, depending on who you ask
The state has released the first full year of data on bail reform, and it has both opponents and supporters saying the numbers prove their views. Supporters have pointed out the low percentage of those released before trial under bail reform – less than 4% – who have been re-arrested for violent crimes as evidence reform works. Meanwhile, opponents are denouncing the high gross number – more than 3,400 – as proof that lawmakers must make changes to the current bail system.
The glaring disparity was visible on Tuesday, when virtual dueling press conferences scheduled at the same time took very different approaches to criminal justice issues. On the one hand, Representative Tom Suozzi, Democratic candidate for governor, denounced recent spikes in violent crimes such as murder. âWe have a really serious problem in our condition,â said Suozzi. âI think we haven’t talked enough about it. He didn’t attribute the recent increase in crime to any particular factor, but made sure to highlight what he saw as the negative effects of bail reform.
Suozzi directly referenced a Times Union article which drew attention over the weekend to analyze raw data released by the state. He revealed that of the nearly 100,000 people freed thanks to the 2019 bail reforms, less than 4% were re-arrested for a violent crime while awaiting trial, representing around 3,400 people in total. . Only about 1% of re-arrests involved a gun. Overall, two-thirds of those released have not been re-arrested, with the remainder charged with non-violent felonies and misdemeanors.
One can look at the low percentage of arrests for violent crimes among those released before their trial, but Suozzi focused on the raw number of alleged crimes, saying it was way too many. âIt’s not just statistics, this is real life stuff,â Suozzi said. “Each of these crimes involves the victim, someone whose life is torn apart by a crime.” He has advocated, as he has done in previous campaign events, for changes to bail reform, such as giving judges the discretion to fire an accused if he is found to be dangerous.
Suozzi did not provide details on how he would ensure that judges’ prejudices did not again affect those detained before their trial. But he suggested that a system similar to the CompStat Police – which tracks New York crime statistics – could apply to judges and their decision-making. Suozzi said “common sense” dictates that more than 3,000 cases are problematic when City & State asks him the difference between statistics that could be used with judges and statistics that suggest a low rate of re-arrest for violent crimes .
At the same time, advocates for criminal justice reform – joined by new Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg – held their own press conference to promote parole reform. More specifically, a law that would allow inmates people over 55 who have served at least 15 years become eligible for parole and another bill that make it easier for anyone eligible for parole.
The two issues are of course not directly related, but the dueling press conferences have offered very different images of New York – one where too many people are dangerously released and one where the state is not releasing enough people who should. have this opportunity. “I think in general it’s not really about the facts,” Senator Julia Salazar of Brooklyn told City & State. âThese are competing stories about public safety. She said the bail data is far from complete, in part because there are no analyzes to compare it to years prior to bail reform, but argued that the information available do not suggest that bail reform poses a significant threat to public safety. âWhatever is good for them, the narrative that Congressman Suozzi or whoever wants to push forward is what they’re going to push forward,â Salazar said.
Debate over the relative success of bail reform has also taken place on the opinion pages and on Twitter. The New York Post published a editorial chastises Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie over bail reform, pointing to anecdotal evidence of its failure on December 29. Heastie hit back at the newspaper on Twitter on Tuesday, calling for the editorial “too biased (and) one-sided. “He rather bonded with a Times Union editorial who took a more balanced view based on state data and concluded that it was still too early to draw any conclusions about bail reform. Yet activists on both sides have used this data to justify themselves – it’s either âalmost 4%â re-arrested for violent crimes and a whopping 1 in 3 re-arrested, or it’s âonly 4%â. % âWith a two-thirds majority of defendants not committing any new suspected crimes.
The point may be moot with qualified Democratic majorities in both houses of the state legislature, most of which – including leaders – have publicly expressed little interest in making further changes to the liberation system under bail. But with Eric Adams freshly in office as New York’s new mayor and pushing for more reform reforms, revisiting the contentious issue is certainly not entirely out of place.
– With a report by Zach Williams