As part of the New York State Fiscal Year (SFY) Budget for 2019–2020, passed on April 1, 2019, cash bail has been eliminated for most misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenses,"including stalking, assault without serious injury, burglary, many drug offenses, and even some kinds of arson and robbery." The law went into effect on January 1, 2020. Under the new cashless bail rule, judges cannot set bail for misdemeanors or non-violent felonies, even when the charge is a hate crime judges must release defendants even when they have a prior criminal record.
According to The New York Times, "While New Jersey, California, Illinois and other states have limited the use of bail, New York is one of the few states to abolish bail for many crimes without also giving state judges the discretion to consider whether a person poses a threat to public safety in deciding whether to hold them."
There was a surge of opposition from lawmakers, district attorneys, and police chiefs as the date of implementation of the bail reform law neared.
New York state judges reportedly started releasing criminal suspects in November 2019 due to the impending law implementation. It is estimated that 25,000 people will be released by the time the law takes effect.
Opposition and criticism
Prosecutors and law enforcement officials have criticized the law for taking away critical decision-making from judges, who no longer have "the discretion to set a higher bail for people with long arrest records" or have shown "other signs they might commit another crime." They also fear "some defendants released under the new rules will continue to commit crimes, and a few may try to intimidate potential witnesses.
Further criticism came after the Monsey Hanukkah stabbing.
Additional criticism came from communities impacted by a 2019 spate of attacks in Brooklyn in which a pedestrians wearing identifiably Jewish clothing were assaulted, beaten and often knocked to the ground by an assailant or group of assailants, many of whom shouted antisemitic slurs.. One assailant, Tiffany Harris, who was released without bail after attacking a Jewish woman, attacked three other Jewish women the very next day; all of the victims were dressed in distinctively Jewish clothing. This and other attacks raised concerns that the new law puts New Yorkers at risk.
Both the Law Enforcement Officers Security Unions LEOSU and our National Union LEOS-PBA are in full support in REPEALING BAIL REFORM.