When New York City Mayor Eric Adams released a wide-ranging plan to fight crime, a formidable obstacle became clear: He would need cooperation from all levels of government to attack the root causes of gun violence. Some of the most significant portions of his plan hinge on his ability to win over forces outside his control, and signs of resistance are emerging, reports the New York Times. In Albany, Adams asked lawmakers to revise the state’s reformed bail law, which has divided Democrats and has been used by Republicans to stoke fears of rising crime. The mayor called on judges to tackle a growing backlog of gun cases and urged Congress to implement universal background checks and ban assault weapons, legislation that remains in limbo because of Republican opposition. He also asked district attorneys to prioritize gun-related cases
The response so far has been lukewarm from Democratic state legislative leaders. They passionately defended 2019 legislation that restricted the crimes for which judges could set bail. Though judges can still set bail for certain felonies, they are compelled to set it at the lowest level necessary to ensure defendants return to court. "Can we stop blaming bail reform when the sun comes up?” said Carl Heastie, the Assembly speaker. “Please stop just trying to make political fodder because we think it’ll make for good campaigns.” Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the majority leader in the State Senate, said she was open to broad conversations about criminal justice. “We are concerned, as everyone is, about a spike in crime,” she said. “But there is no connection between our bail reform and the national spike in crime.” After the release of a teenager whose bullet grazed a policeman’s leg in a scuffle, Adams asked whether judges should be free to deny bail to defendants they thought were dangerous and keep them in jail. State Democratic leaders are wary of lending credence to Republican attacks that the bail law Democrats passed is flawed or helped fuel crime, an assertion that is not supported by any reliable data.