New York’s new cash bai law should be amended so judges have more discretion in determining whether a person should be released, Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters on Thursday.
“Where I think there is real agreement is that the bail reform law needs to be amended,” he said.
“There is a chance now for the legislature to get it right. They did some very good reforms, but there are also things that need to be done, particularly empowering judges to determine if someone poses a threat to the surrounding community.”
De Blasio’s comments come amid a wave of anti-Semitic attacks in the New York City area. But they also come amid a sustained pressure campaign from opponents of the legislation, which ended cash bail for misdemeanor and non-violent felonies.
District attorneys from both parties, as well as local law enforcement officials, have highlighted in recent weeks people who have been released without bail accused of crimes like bank robberies or the death of another person.
Republicans have also highlighted issues with the criminal justice law changes, urging they be delayed from taking effect.
Lawmakers last year approved a package of measures that curbed the use of cash bail and sought an expedited discovery process for evidence.
Local law enforcement officials have felt hamstrung by both new laws and have called for more funding to enact the evidence discovery changes.
But for criminal justice reform advocates, the measures are meant to overhaul a system in which people have languished in jail amid a backlog of criminal court cases. They argue cash bail benefits wealthier defendants who can afford to pay cash or put up bond to be released, while poorer people remain in jail pending trial.
Some state Democratic lawmakers late last year showed reluctance to make changes to the new laws, but did open the door to more funding for pre-trial services, which will likely be strained for some local governments.