No agreement on bail reform looms over race to get budget passed in New York

No agreement on bail reform looms over race to get budget passed in New York

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NEW YORK — By a margin of more than 2 to 1, voters in New York say bail reform leads to more crime. And how those laws fare in the new state budget could impact Gov. Kathy Hochul‘s political future.

Some say it’s a prime example of Albany dysfunction — crime-scarred voters want changes to bail reform and Hochul wants to make that happen, but the Democrats who control both houses of the Legislature are at this point adamantly against it.

And the Republicans? Well, they see it as an opportunity to use it against Hochul in the November elections, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Monday.

Some Democrats are saying no rollbacks.

READ MOREA conversation on bail reform: What’s at stake and the data behind what’s really going on

Just as the governor is trying to negotiate a new budget that includes a sweeping public safety package with changes to keep the bad guys behind bars, a coalition of progressive groups and lawmakers from her own party have staged a rowdy rally at the capital to stop her in her tracks.

The group is opposed to Hochul’s proposed tweaks to bail reform laws that would give judges more discretion to detain criminal defendants on bail and to increase the crimes that are bail eligible.

“Upwards of 99% of the people released on bail reform were not re-arrested for any violent felonies,” Assemblywoman Latrice Walker said. “So if you cannot back it up, then you need to shut up.”

“We don’t want to perpetuate a system that only seeks to siphon money out of our communities. It only seeks to stow human beings away in a dungeon to be forgotten, then to be let out in worse conditions than when they entered,” Sen. Jessica Ramos said.

But according to a new Siena poll, voters want to see change.

By a margin of 82 percent to 11 percent, voters think judges should have more discretion to set bail based on the seriousness of the crime or the individuals criminal record.

By a margin of 64 to 24, voters say bail reform has resulted in more crime.

READ MOREGov. Hochul plans sweeping public safety package aimed at changing bail reform laws

Republicans, far out numbered by Democrats in New York, see the disagreement as an opportunity for political gain. They staged their own rally.

“It is past time that New York joins nearly every other state in the nation, as well as the federal judiciary, in allowing judges to consider defendants’ risk to public safety when considering bail. Please, please take action,” said Franklin County Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill.

“Just recently there was a video out — a mother, a 3-year-old child walking into a hallway. Two men waiting in wait with masks on their faces put a gun to that kid’s head, committed a robbery. Why? Because they feel they can get away with it,” Staten Island Assemblyman Mike Reilly said.

Democratic party leaders told Kramer they’re worried a failure to win changes will hurt Hochul with crime-weary voters, and could provide an opening for Republicans. And it’s not just Hochul who could be vulnerable. Suburban senators on Long Island, where Republicans made huge gains last November, will also have to worry. 

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