Momentum to alter the state’s new cash bail law has sped up in recent weeks amid a spate of anti-Semitic hate crimes targeting Jews in the New York City metropolitan area.
Democratic lawmakers are backing changes that would add judicial discretion to the measure, which ended cash bail requirements for misdemeanors and non-violent felony offenses.
But several Jewish organizations on Monday, including Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Avodah and Kolot Chayeinu in a joint statement said the wave of attacks and bail law changes shouldn’t be linked, or provide an impetus for any amendments.
“Jewish organizations and congregations in New York are proud to have helped pass historic bail reform legislation that went into effect last week on January 1, 2020. As Jews, we are called to support bail reform because our values tell us that we must not accept a justice system that criminalizes poverty or that perpetuates racial injustice,” they said.
“We are dismayed by elected and law enforcement officials who are preying on tragedies for political gain. We refuse to let them weaponize Jewish people’s pain in the wake of anti-semitic violence to try and undo bail reform. We call on all New York’s elected leaders to fully implement the new laws and work to ensure equal justice for all.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaking with a New York City business group on Monday praised the changes, but also opened the door to make unspecified alterations.
Local prosecutors and law enforcement have urged more money be attached to some of the criminal justice law changes, especially for handling new evidence discovery requirements and to provide more pre-trial services to people who are awaiting trial outside of jail.
But the push for judicial discretion — essentially allowing judges to determine if a person is too dangerous to remain free pending trial — has gained traction in recent weeks, especially among Democratic lawmakers seeking to defuse the controversy.