By a large majority, New Yorkers say the state’s controversial no-cash bail law has contributed to the disturbing surge in crime, according to a new poll released on Monday.
A Siena College survey found that 56 percent of New York voters say the bail reform law passed in 2019 by disgraced former mayor Andrew Cuomo has been bad for the state, compared to 49 percent who disapproved of the law in January 2020 and just 38 percent who predicted it would be bad immediately after its passing in April 2019.
Among the law’s critics, 38 percent of those are Democrats and 61 percent identify as Independents or “Other.” Democratic opposition to the law has steadily increased since 2019, when 38 percent believed it would not bode well for New York. By January 2020, the number had risen to 49 percent.
As Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg pointed out, support for the law has dwindled across the demographic board.
“One month after the 2019 bail reform law passed, at least 60 percent of Democrats, independents, New York City, Black, Latino, and young voters, and a majority of non-New York City, white, and older voters thought the new law would be good for the state. Only Republicans, 55 percent – 34 percent, thought the law would be bad,” said Greenberg. “Today, 84 percent of Republicans think the law has been bad for New York, as do at least 60 percent of independents, voters outside New York City, white, and older voters. A plurality of Democrats, 46 – 38 percent, and a majority of young voters think the law has been good for the state.”
“Black and Latino voters are closely divided,” said Greenberg, “tilting toward bad.”
An overwhelming 64 percent of voters say the law has produced an increase in crime and a jaw-dropping 82 percent feel the law needs to be amended “to give judges more discretion to set bail based on the seriousness of the crime or the individual’s criminal record,” the survey states.
And again, the opposition to the law crosses all demographics.
“Nearly two-thirds of New Yorkers — including at least 60 percent of Republicans, independents, voters from every region, and white and Latino voters, as well as majorities of Democratic and Black voters — say the bail law has resulted in an increase in crime,” said Greenberg. “And an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers, including at least 72 percent of voters of every party, region, and race, say the law should be amended to give judges more discretion to set bail.”
Only 39 percent of New Yorkers are concerned that allowing judges to set bail “will result in poor people and people of color being unfairly incarcerated,” the poll found.
“At the same time, 56 percent of New Yorkers — including at least two-thirds of Democrats, New York City voters, and Black and Latino voters — are at least somewhat concerned that giving judicial discretion on bail could result in the unjust incarceration of poor people and people of color,” noted Greenberg.
“There is near-universal agreement that the bail law should be amended to give judicial discretion, while at the same time, a majority are concerned that providing discretion could lead to unjust incarcerations,” said Greenberg, adding, “Good luck, Governor and legislators.”
Amendments to allow for stricter bail has, as American Wire News reported, been on New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s mind in recent weeks as she prepares to meet the April 1 deadline for a new state budget.
Earlier this month, Hochul introduced a series of proposed modifications to the law.
“For offenses that are not currently subject to arrest, police will have the ability (though not the requirement) to deny a desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) and arrest an individual who has previously received a DAT within eighteen months,” Hochul stated in a memo. “All second offenses within a certain period of time will be bail-eligible.”
“The statute will set forth specific criteria on which judges will base their determinations, including criminal history and history of firearm use/possession,” the memo vowed.
According to Emmy-winning CBS journalist Aundrea Cline-Thomas, bail reform “is one of the most polarizing issues in Albany right now.”
On Tuesday, CBS News New York is streaming a special “Conversation on Bail Reform.”
According to Thomas, the special will “look at what’s at stake, changes being considered and if there’s common ground.”
#BailReform is one of the most polarizing issues in Albany right now. Join us for a CBS News New York Special: A Conversation on Bail Reform streaming TOMORROW at 9am. We look at what’s at stake, changes being considered and if there’s common ground. .@CBSNewYork #BailReformCBSNY pic.twitter.com/PB5ngK2t1M
— Aundrea Cline-Thomas (@AClineThomas) March 28, 2022
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