New Yorkers Turn Sour on Bail Reform

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Photo by Payton Chung via Flickr

A storm of criticism over New York’s new bail reform law appears to have shifted public opinion against it.

According to a new poll, the number of voters who approve the law has dropped from 55 percent to 37 percent since April, reports Hudson Valley 360.

Some 49 percent of state voters now say the law is “bad” for New York, according to a Siena College telephone survey this month of a sample of 814 voters.

In the months since the first poll was taken, criticism has mounted from legislators and other groups who say the bill removing cash bail will endanger public safety by allowing individuals arrested by the police to escape detention.

Many focused on one case of an accused bank robber who was released from custody only to rob another bank.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said that some changes in the law will probably be necessary.

Most of the opposition comes from more conservative upstate areas, said Siena pollster, Steven Greenberg.

“While small majorities of suburban and upstate voters has though the law would be ‘good’, today 58 percent of upstaters and 64 percent of downstate suburbanites think the law is ‘bad’,” he said.

But he noted that “about two-thirds of black and Latino voters had thought the law would be ‘good’ and now that support is down to about half, still a plurality for both groups.”

Bail reform inspired twin protests last week at the state Capitol – one from victims and police and the other from advocates who don’t want to see a rollback of the state’s new policies.

“If we don’t repeal this bill it is just going to be lawlessness across this whole state,” Assemblyman Chris Tague, said last week after a press conference including victims’ families who said they have been affected by bail reform. “So let’s fix it and let’s have protection of our people. Public safety should be the most important thing from here on out.”

But Kelly Gonzalez, deputy director of the Center for Community Alternatives, in Syracuse, says the law is working as it should.

“Holding someone pretrial actually increases the likelihood that they would be re-arrested. So why is that? Because you’re taking this person out of their community, away from maybe support services, mental health services,” said Gonzalez.

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