Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie's support for the cashless bail law amid a growing maelstrom may feel like a lonely stance in Albany these days. But on Friday, the speaker got some backing from a coalition of progressive organizations supporting his stance that the new law should not be scaled back.
“We applaud Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for standing strong to support New York’s recently enacted pretrial reforms. These laws are reuniting thousands of families and reducing race-and wealth-based detention across New York," the groups wrote in the statement.
They continued, "However, some regressive law enforcement officials and lawmakers are trying to peddle fear about these historic reforms and revert to a status quo that led to the incarceration of tens of thousands of legally innocent New Yorkers every year and decimated Black, Brown, and low-income communities across the state. We stand with Speaker Heastie in opposing all rollbacks to these critical reforms."
Signing on to the statement in support: Citizen Action, JustLeadershipUSA, New York County Defender Services, The Legal Aid Society, The Bronx Defenders, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Brooklyn Defender Services, VOCAL-NY, and FWD.us.
Previously this week, the two leading progressive presidential candidates — Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — urged state lawmakers to not roll back the measure.
Democratic state lawmakers have called for alterations to the law — which ends cash bail for misdemeanor and non-violent felonies, that would allow a judge to take into consideration whether a person is too dangerous to be released pending trial.
Supporters of cashless bail, however, say that provision could still result in people of color being remanded to jail on a disproportionate basis.
Still, Republicans have hammered Democrats over the issue, while law enforcement and local-level prosecutors have called for changes as the law took effect.