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Manhattan Institute Scholars Respond to Gov. Hochul’s 10-Point Bail Reform Proposal

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Manhattan Institute Scholars Respond to Gov. Hochul’s 10-Point Bail Reform Proposal

March 23, 2022
Policing & Public SafetyAll

“Gov. Hochul's proposals are a first step in the right direction. She should be applauded for listening to the concerns of Mayor Adams and others about the impacts of New York's criminal justice reforms on public safety. Expanding arrest and bail eligibility for gun, hate, and other serious but non-violent offenses, and increasing bail eligibility for repeat offenders, focuses on some of the worst excesses of bail reform. Similarly, refining Raise the Age, which increased the arrest rate for 16-year-olds in its first year of implementation, will help blunt the worst impacts of these reforms. That said, Albany can and should go further. A fairer bail system is one in which offenders are remanded based on their risk of flight or dangerousness, not on their ability to pay. While the Governor's proposal takes us closer to such a ‘dangerousness’ standard, dangerous, repeat offenders will continue to slip through the cracks so long as the state legislature insists on tying judges’ hands.”

Charles Fain Lehman is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and contributing editor at City Journal.

“Seriously mentally ill New Yorkers, too many of whom are involved with the criminal justice system, will benefit from Gov. Hochul’s 10-point public safety plan. The plan will expand access to Kendra’s Law and inpatient treatment. Both are vital interventions for the segment of the mentally ill population we’re most concerned about from a criminal justice standpoint. Kendra’s Law reduces incarceration: this has been a consistent finding throughout the many evaluations done of the program. More funding for inpatient care will arrest the trend of declining beds that, throughout the 2010s, placed so much pressure on government systems such as homeless services and criminal justice. As I showed in a recent report, the last decade saw New York policymakers enact a virtual wish list of progressive ideas about how to address the so-called ‘criminalization of mental illness.’ Outcomes were modest at best. But perhaps with new leadership at the state and city level better days lie ahead for the seriously mentally ill.”

Stephen Eide is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and contributing editor at City Journal.

 “Gov. Hochul's proposed changes represent a step forward for public safety by acknowledging that the 2020 ‘discovery reform’ legislation created an impossible burden on prosecutors. The short timeframe for prosecutors to collect and share an unfeasible amount of court material has contributed to an enormous and steady increase in felony and misdemeanor cases getting dismissed. According to the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, 51 percent of their criminal cases have been dismissed this year—compared to 28 percent in 2019. By amending prosecutors' responsibility to only ‘substantial compliance,’ the legislature would lighten—although not fully remove—what has become an enormous obstacle to the functioning of NYS's criminal justice system.”

Hannah E. Meyers is the director of policing and public safety at the Manhattan Institute.

 “As New York grapples with swelling crime in 2022, especially the gruesome attacks on Asian American women, Gov. Hochul’s 10-point proposal represents the start of a long-overdue course correction. In reducing the often-unnecessary prosecutorial workload that accompanied discovery reform and making more types of crimes and repeat offenses bail-eligible, the governor has signaled that the liberties of the accused cannot come at the unlimited expense of public well-being. The proposal doesn’t go far enough to incapacitate those with dangerous proclivities, particularly since it treats violent crimes committed with a firearm and on subways differently than the same offenses committed, say, with a knife and on the streets. But overreaching politically in a state with Democratic legislative supermajorities runs the risk of seeing no change instead of some. If the governor’s proposal results in even a modest reduction in crime, that may well set the tone to further curtail New York’s dangerous criminal justice experiments.”

John Ketcham is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

To book an interview, please contact lthomas@manhattan-institute.org.

Photo by artisteer/iStock

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