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NY Gov. Hochul Wants To Roll Back Some 2019 Bail Reforms

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, responding to a number of high-profile crimes and to a sharp rise in gun violence during the pandemic, is urging state lawmakers to change the state’s contentious bail law, the New York Times reports. Hochul wants to expand the number of crimes eligible for bail and to give judges more discretion to account for the criminal history of those accused of serious felonies, as well as the harm defendants could pose to others. Those measures could roll back some changes made to the state’s bail law in 2019 by a reform-minded Democratic-led Legislature and would end New York’s status as the only state to bar judges from considering the danger posed by a defendant in making bail decisions.

Hochul’s proposals, part of a 10-part public safety plan would allow the police to arrest people for minor repeat offenses that might otherwise be handled with a desk appearance ticket; expand the number of gun crimes that are eligible for bail, and lower the threshold for prosecuting gun trafficking. Hochul, a Democrat running for her first full term as governor, has come under intense pressure from Republicans and moderate Democrats to join their efforts to change the state’s bail law. Legislative leaders have expressed little interest in revisiting one of the most explosive and divisive policy issues in Albany, rejecting pressure from New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who also favors changes in bail law. The state’s bail law was overhauled after Democrats assumed full control of the legislature in 2019 and began pushing criminal justice reforms meant to stop criminalizing the poor. One objective was to reduce the number of people awaiting trial who were incarcerated because they could not afford bail.

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