Majority in NY wants changes to bail reform law, poll finds

A majority of New Yorkers want to see the state’s bail reform law amended in order to give judges more discretion, according to a new Siena Poll released Tuesday morning.

Nearly two-thirds of voters polled say they want judges to have the ability to keep someone in jail if they believe they are a danger to the community.

This "dangerousness" standard is something that Mayor Eric Adams has been strongly advocating for since he took office, but has been met with pushback by legislative leaders.

Supporters of the law have pointed to state data showing that only around 2 percent of those released under this law were re-arrested for a violent felony, even though around 20% were re-arrested for misdemeanors. They also argue that the bail system punished poorer defendants and disproportionately impacted people of color.

Critics of the bail reform law though say that it has led to a rise in crime in New York and judges should have the power to keep someone in jail they consider a public safety threat.

Yet, this new poll reflects a very tense situation happening across the state, particularly in the city, and a growing number of voters who believe the recent spike in crime is linked to this law.

Overwhelmingly, New Yorkers polled said that crime is a very serious problem and 71% of New York City voters say they are very or somewhat concerned about being a victim of crime.

"More than half of every demographic group say it is a very serious problem and at least 84% of every demographic say it is at least a somewhat serious problem," Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said.

NY mask mandate

When it comes to the mask mandate, 58% of New Yorkers say that the state should wait until early March for more data before deciding whether to lift the school mask mandate, compared to 30% who say that it should have been lifted already.

The school mask mandate debate has grown louder in recent weeks, with rallies popping up almost every week protesting the mandate and education officials calling for clearer metrics on when the mandate might eventually be lifted.

Governor Kathy Hochul has said there is no specific metric that will trigger lifting New York’s mandate on mask wearing in schools, but recently told education leaders that the state will be re-examining the mandate after students return from winter break in early March.

"The majority of virtually every demographic group agrees, though not Republicans and conservatives, who wish the mandate had ended already," Greenberg said.

New Yorkers were also slightly split on the state’s indoor mask mandate, which was lifted on February 9, with 45% saying that the mandate should still be in place, compared to 31% who say it should have ended earlier than it did and 20% who say it ended at the right time.

2022 midterm election poll

Governor Hochul, who is still riding high from being nominated at the State Democratic Convention, also continued to crush the competition in a hypothetical matchup against Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Congressman Tom Suozzi.

Hochul came in with 46% support among Democratic voters, Williams had 17%, and Suozzi had 9%.

However, Williams does have a narrow 39-32% lead over Hochul among Black voters and is also doing slightly better among younger voters.

When it comes to former Governor Andrew Cuomo, 58% of voters polled say they do believe he sexually harassed multiple women and 21% say he did not. At the same time, 56-25% say Cuomo has not been vindicated, a word the former governor has been touting since five district attorneys from around the state dropped their cases against him.

47-27% of voters polled say they believe Attorney General Letitia James who says Cuomo is a "serial sexual harasser" more than they believe Cuomo who says the investigation against him was a "political hit job."

Cuomo has repeatedly denied he has done anything wrong and is allegedly planning a return to the public spotlight in the coming months.  

Although according to the new poll, an overwhelming number of voters polled say that Cuomo made the right decision to resign by an 80-13% margin.

When it comes to the Republican gubernatorial primary, Andrew Giuliani is still in the lead with a 47-28% favorability among Republicans and a 28-47% favorability rating with all voters. Congressman Lee Zeldin, who is the frontrunner among Republican committee members, came well behind Guiliani with a 27-16% favorability among Republicans and 18-20% favorability with all voters. Rob Astorino came in a close third, with 21-13% favorability among Republican voters and an 18-14% favorability with all voters.

Voters polled are also very worried about inflation, with nine in ten voters saying inflation is having a somewhat serious negative effect on the economy and 78% saying inflation is having a negative effect on their finances.

"Like crime, inflation is very much on voters’ minds heading into the midterms," Greenberg said.

President Joe Biden’s ratings also fell to their lowest levels since taking office. His favorability rating is 48-48%, down from 52-42% last month, and 65-29% in February 2021.

The Siena College Poll was conducted February 14-17, 2022 among 803 New York State registered voters and has an overall margin of error of + 3.9 percentage points