This month marks two years since the reform of the New York Bail Bonds Law, which came into force exactly in January 2020. And in time for this anniversary, the first official figures of the application of this legislation were released, Although they only cover the period of one year, between July 2020 to June 2021, and the results of which have reignited the debate on whether it is necessary to revisit the controversial law.
According to the official figures released this week, in that year almost 100,000 cases in which adults were released, after being accused of crimes, for which the judges previously they could have set bail or have ordered their arrest.
And it is that with this reform the people accused of certain crimes classified as minor and non-violent, they cannot be held on bail.
But of those almost 100,000 benefited with this legal scheme, about 3,400, or what the 4% of those released, were arrested again for alleged violent crimes.
In about the 1% of cases, the released persons were arrested again for offenses involving a firearm, while their initial cases were pending, as shown by the shared data by various local media.
The figures indicate that in 2021 the number of defendants who re-entered the judicial system for committing other crimes was lower than in 2020, although this is likely to change when data that reflects the people who they were detained again after July 2021.
For decades the promoters of this norm argued that the ability to pay bail should not be a factor in determining the time behind bars for minor offenses, since ultimately ethnic minorities were the ones who ended up paying jail for poverty.
This series of “cold” numbers has already been interpreted in many ways.
The defenders of this reform claim that it is observed a “very low” level of recidivism, but his opponents ponder that given the sheer volume of people released across the state, they translate into thousands of cases of people being released and shortly thereafter commit violent crimes again.
On the edge of the defense of this reform, there are legislators such as the state senator Julia Salazar, who in an interview with the publication ‘City & State’, pointed out that preliminary data on the effects of changes in the surety law “They are far from complete.”
“There is no possibility of comparing them with what happened in previous years. There are no reasons, nor precise information to assure that these norms represent a threat significant to public safety. There are narratives that seek this objective, ”said the Brooklyn legislator.
To this vision of Salazar, dozens of legislators who promoted these changes join.
Check this law!
But in contrast, this week the congressman New York Democrat Tom Suozzi, joined the chorus of those who agree that there has not been “enough said” about the high crime rate in New York, and questioned that the preliminary numbers showing the application of the bond law are “underestimated”.
“These are not just statistics, they are real life things. Each and every one of these crimes involves a victim, involves someone whose life is being torn apart by a crime“.
Suozzi, who aspires to be measured in the primaries for the New York Governorate, advocated that a turn in the bond reforms be discussed, such as allowing judges the discretion of return “an accused person to prison if he is considered dangerous”.
In this diatribe of pros and cons, which revolve around this legal norm, in the Big Apple some balance sheets, especially from the New York City Police Department (NYPD), suggest that its application fueled crime that it hits the city, also coinciding with the pandemic and the police reforms that emerged after protests against police brutality. Everything happened in the same year.
“We do our job. We have detained people with firearms like never before. But it’s frustrating to see how to days these people are in the streets“Said former NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea no less than 14 times last year in public remarks.
The program ‘NYPD CompStat’ reported more than 98,580 felonies such as murders, rape, robbery, felony assault, grand theft and car theft in 2021, up from 93,231 in 2020. Overall, these are the most violent years in decades.
“Not everything is the fault of the reform “
One ex-officer of the Uniformed, who preferred to remain anonymous, says that changes in the way prosecutors and judges apply the bail law cannot be linked only to the increase in crime.
“In summer 2020 we had the perfect storm. And from there, crime has not gone down. Because criminals, especially the youngest, they lost fear of the Police because of the political discourse and the reforms made by the City ”, he opined.
The agent who decided last December to withdraw, recalled that the movements to reduce the budget to NYPD They “demoralized” many officials.
“They took away our authority! That has a lot to do with the disaster that the city is experiencing. And the poorest neighborhoods pay the most. Many who marched against us came out only for political campaign. They do not live in areas that are now more violent, “said the Hispanic who served 20 years in the police force in the Bronx.
Winds of revisions in this 2022?
With the start of legislative sessions in the State Assembly this week and a new municipal administration in the Big Apple, a great question is opened before a controversial chapter of the form how criminal justice is administered in New York: Will Albany legislators give in to amend the Bail Bonds Act that began to apply in January 2020?
After two years of its entry into force, and with some official numbers at hand, large sectors of New York City associate the application of this law as one of the factors that fueled the incendiary criminal situation registered in recent months.
And at the other extreme, legislators and spokespersons for coalitions that even defend more changes in the application of criminal justice, they already have their batteries ready to oppose in all fields, to any change, even in some letter, of the controversial legislation.
For others, it is soon to draw conclusions.
State Assembly spokespersons indicated to The newspaper, when just assembly members and senators return to their seats in 2022, there is a series of legislation “in line” related to the post-pandemic economic recovery that will occupy the legislative attention with force.
“Specific, there is no legislation on the table, that counteracts the validity of the current Bail Bonds Law. There are only complaints and requests. On the contrary, other legislation related to criminal justice remained pending, for example that which would offer reviews and more facilities for parole “, the source shared.
The law already had some adjustments
During budget negotiations in March 2020, former Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders agreed reverse some of the reforms.
They added various crimes to make them eligible for bail, including second degree robberies, promotion of child pornography and vehicular manslaughter, a crime associated with drunk driving deaths.
In addition, they gave prosecutors more time, up to 35 days, to deliver evidence against the defendants.
Cuomo explained that although he was proud of the original bail reform laws, They needed some adjustments.
In this sense, there is not in the panorama neither on the part of the Government nor the legislators from the Democratic caucus for any hint to review the controversial legislation.
“Possibly there are technical issues of interpretation to be adjusted in the courts, but it will be difficult in the immediate future for these regulations to be modified in spirit. They were many years of analysis. We believe that in essence it is going in the right direction “added the legislative source.
NYC Mayor: “We have to do reviews”
Since the election campaign debates, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who promises greater vigor in public safety policies, has shown his intention to review and promote changes in this reform.
The last opportunity that questioned her head-on was at the beginning of December, when it was learned that the person allegedly responsible for setting the fire on the Fox News Building Christmas Tree in Manhattan he had a long record of petty crimes and arrests.
“That’s probably a perfect example: not having the discretion to profile the person in front of you. Judges need to do a better job and where they can give bail they should do so, but in cases like that, that’s where the adjustment should be, “said the municipal president.
Meanwhile, commercial sectors of the Big Apple do not stop denouncing the burden of thefts in their establishments, associating it with the modification to the form how misdemeanors are now penalized.
“Criminals enter our warehouses and tell us to our faces that we cannot do anything to them, to call the police, because stealing is no longer serious. We are witnesses that this was fatal for the city. We await a review ”, he emphasized Radhamés Rodríguez of the Association of United Winemakers of America (ABA).
What happened between July 2020 and June 2021?
- 3,460 cases were reported in that year, in which adults they were arrested again for serious and violent crimes.
- 773 of this group were arrested with a firearm, after being first charged with crimes for which judges can no longer set bail or keep the defendant in jail.
- 98,145 cases in which people They were released on charges for which they can no longer remain in custody.
- 1/3 of this group led to a new arrest while their initial cases were pending, according to the data. Most of the new crimes were misdemeanors and non-violent crimes.
- 30% the rate of incarceration in New York prisons fell, according to approximations of Human Rights coalitions.