Gov. Hochul unveils new crime stats, pushes for bail reform changes

Gov. Kathy Hochul reiterated her call to amend New York's bail reform laws.  

"We cannot rest until every single New Yorker feels safe in their homes, in their streets, on the subway, their places of work," Gov. Hochul said. 

It comes as the governor unveiled new crime stats. Statewide murders are down 11% from 2021 to 2022, but other categories such as robbery, assault, burglary and larceny are up. 

"The entire picture is not as positive when we look at index crimes, which measures serious crimes, but are not just shootings and murders, its other serious crimes, that's actually up 21%. We see that from 2021 to 2022. Again, a trend that we're trying very hard to put in the other direction, but it's not there yet," Gov. Hochul said.

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Hochul believes her proposal to tighten New York bail laws could help with addressing crime. The governor's proposal includes stripping language that requires judges to impose the least restrictive conditions to ensure a defendant will return to court. 

"I should make it clear that we're not incarcerating people for low level crimes or criminalizing poverty but giving judges the discretion necessary to ensure public safety," Hochul said.

However, the criminal justice reform advocacy group, which was founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, rejects Hochuls approach on amending bail reform. 

New York State director Alana Sivin says in a statement: "Over the past three years, study after study has shown the positive impact of bail reform: bail reform has reduced incarceration, kept $104 million in communities, and prevented at least 24,000 people from spending time in jail, allowing them to continue to care for their families and to work, and keeping them safe in their homes.   

"The study released by the Data Collaborative for Justice (DCJ) reinforces what we already know: bail reform has provided all of these benefits to New York communities without resulting in a rise in crime. It found that, in New York City, ‘eliminating bail for most misdemeanor and nonviolent felony cases significantly reduced recidivism,’and not only maintained public safety, but ‘increased it.’"

"The DCJ study authors directly contradict any characterization of the ‘least restrictive means’ provision of bail reform as a problem, making clear that ‘reducing the use of bail in cases legally eligible for it had little net effect in either direction, [and that] policymakers would be justified on public safety grounds in avoiding further legislative or policy changes.’ They further note that ‘we are not embracing weaker decision-making standards that might compromise due process, undermine the presumption of innocence, or contradict legal precedents concerning when bail or pretrial detention are permissible.’"

"We urge elected leaders to follow the data - including the DCJ study, which adds to the large body of existing research - showing that rolling back this successful policy won’t make New York safer. New York’s elected leaders must reject changes to this successful policy and prioritize investments in evidence-based solutions that will advance public safety."  

Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt and the Republican Conference disagrees, and argues not enough is being done to protect victims of crimes. 

In a statement, he writes, "The Democratic conference continues to advance pro criminal policies that coddle criminals, cause havoc in our streets and have left New Yorkers in fear.  Assault, prostitution, burglary, robbery and theft are all crimes that have no more accountability and are no longer eligible for bail."

Democrats advanced a policy Thursday with the sole purpose of political prosecution that does nothing for the victims that have suffered at the hands of criminals in this state. This conference will continue to ensure criminals are prosecuted and will not be a part of these partisan politics on the Senate floor."