Mayor Adams slams NY bail reform: 'Our criminal justice system is insane'

Mayor Eric Adams did not hold back on his strong criticism of New York’s bail laws at a news conference on Wednesday, saying that it is failing to keep recidivists in pre-trial detention.

"Our criminal justice system is insane," Mayor Adams said on Wednesday during a news conference with the NYPD. "It is dangerous, it is harmful, and it's destroying the fabric of our city."

Recidivists are driving crime in New York City, according to the Mayor and NYPD officials.  

Calling them the "worst of the worst" criminals, Adams outlined at least 10 repeat offenders who have been arrested a total of 485 times since bail reform went into effect in 2020.

NYPD officials would not give the names of those individuals since cases are still pending.

But one individual, given as an example, has been arrested 88 times since 2020, according to the NYPD. 74 of those arrests were related to larceny charges, and they all occurred in Manhattan. Per the city’s data, this same individual also has had 14 total convictions, including 2 violent felony convictions.

NYPD officials also say that just 716 individuals are responsible for 30% of shooting incidents in New York City since 2021. 54% of these individuals have an open felony.

"New York remains the only state that prevents judges from considering the threat to public safety when making custody determinations," Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said.

The Mayor and Police Commissioner Sewell have repeatedly called for state lawmakers to add a clause to New York’s bail laws that would allow a judge to determine a defendant’s dangerousness when setting bail.

But this so-called "dangerousness" clause has been a non-starter for State Lawmakers who have refused to take up the measure.

State lawmakers have already made changes to the state’s bail laws twice to make more charges bail eligible, most recently this past March.

Lawmakers pushed back again on Wednesday to claims Adams was making.

For example, during the press conference, Adams said that 80% of people who were arrested on gun charges this year are currently not in custody. But adding gun charges as a bail-eligible offense, was one of the recent bail reform changes lawmakers passed during the budget this year.

"Everything the Mayor cited is something that we have addressed, especially his concerns regarding repeat offenders and gun offenses," Senate Majority Leader Andrea- Stewart Cousins said in response  "We are always willing to work with the Mayor and all our partners in local government. The Senate will always fight to ensure New York state remains one of the safest states in the nation."

Advocates say that allowing judges to rely on their own discretion to determine if someone is dangerous, often leads to a higher rate of black and brown individuals being incarcerated.

"The crisis impacts mostly black and brown people and low-income people," Djuan Collins with VOCAL New York said at a rally outside One Police Plaza. "That's who's in jail. Ever since we passed bail reform, the mayor and Republicans have been attacking the reforms, demanding that more people be sent to jail pre-trial."

Governor Kathy Hochul would not say if a dangerousness clause should be added to the state’s bail laws, pointing instead at judges who are not upholding the reforms correctly.

"What we gave judges was the ability to consider severity of the offense, is this a repeat offense, is there a history involved here?" Hochul said. "We have now spelled out for judges factors to consider whether this person should be back on the street or not."

But Adams disagreed saying that while bail reform should remain intact, allowing a judge to determine if a person is dangerous is crucial to stopping the surge in crime.

"This is not an attack on righteous reforms," Adams said. "This is an attack on those who have exploited the reforms. Yes, they have tools that they need, they're not using. They need to use all of their tools, but they need additional tools in the process as well."