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BCW Supports Gov. Hochul on Improving Bail Reform Laws

The Business Council of Westchester supports Governor Kathy Hochul’s recommendation for improving the state’s bail reform laws. In an op-ed that ran this week in The Daily News, Gov. Hochul outlined a sensible and reasoned approach to this important issue.

“In 2019, the state Legislature enacted landmark reforms to our bail laws. The goal of these changes was to overhaul a system where race and access to money all too often determined whether defendants would be locked up before facing trial. These disparate outcomes, which disproportionately impacted Black and Brown communities, were not only fundamentally unjust, but undermined trust in our criminal justice system.,” Gov. Hochul stated in the op-ed.

The Governor continued, “Still, since the law was passed, we have seen a distressing increase in shootings and homicides. The data does not, however, suggest that bail reform is the main cause: In New York City, the percentage of people who are arraigned and released for gun crimes who go on to be rearrested has barely changed since bail reform took effect, from 25% before bail reform to 27%, according to an analysis from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. Outside of New York City, that percentage went from 20% to 22%…. Blaming bail reform for the increase in violence that cities across America are facing isn’t fair and isn’t supported by the data. Doing so risks distracting us from what are likely far more significant factors: upheaval from the pandemic, the availability of illegal guns, increased gang activity, lower arrest rates and a backed-up court system, to name a few.”

The Governor’s comments align with the BCW’s 2022 Legislative Agenda which states:

“As the state re-emerges from the pandemic, the BCW advocates that a flawed criminal justice system will impede economic development and the state’s recovery. The bail reform package of 2019 proved to be very contentious and its reforms bar judges from imposing bail as a condition for release on most misdemeanors and non-violent felonies. It also changes to speed up the evidentiary discovery process. The intentions in passing the reforms were commendable, as economic status should not dictate whether someone stays behind bars pending trial.”

The full text Gov. Hochul’s op-ed is available at https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/icymi-governor-hochuls-op-ed-new-york-daily-news-dont-blame-bail-reform-do-improve-it

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