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Republicans 'Weaponize Bail Reform' Amid 2022 Election Battles

Last year, Democrats on Long Island were swept out of county offices amid Republican attacks on New York’s bail laws, which ended cash bail for all but the most violent crimes and exceptional circumstances. Election defeats in suburban Nassau County, along with the victory of crime-fighting New York City Mayor Eric Adams, were a wake-up call for Democrats. They’ve agreed to a deal that will to scale back some 2019 bail reforms as a national surge in crime stokes fears of more state and federal election losses in the November midterms, reports Politico.. Across the nation, Democrats are feeling pushback on criminal justice reforms enacted just a few years ago. A movement that gained momentum in some states following the murder of George Floyd is losing ground. In Illinois, Republicans are urging Democrats to halt a law for no cash bail that takes effect next year. In California, voters last year rejected a ballot measure to end cash bail.

All of it is playing out as Democrats worry about losing control of the House and falling short in state legislative and governor races this fall. “You hear me say it over and over again, public safety is a prerequisite to prosperity,” says Adams, a Democrat who pushed for bail changes in New York. “If we’re not safe, we’re not going to prosper as a city.” There is no data showing that New York’s bail reform has fueled a spike in crime. Republicans have successfully suggested a correlation to sway voters. “Law and order has always been a powerful electoral weapon with voters, particularly when suburbanites are feeling insecure and at risk,” said Larry Levy of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University on Long Island. "And Republicans have been able to weaponize bail reform, fair or not, in a way that has made a lot of moderate swing voters feel unsafe.”

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