A progressive advocacy organization on Tuesday announced plans to launch a six-figure ad campaign to oppose changes to New York's law that largely ended cash bail requirements for many criminal charges.
The push from the group FWD.us comes as state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul are discussing potential changes to the law, which has been at the epicenter of a broader debate over public safety in New York.
“The scapegoating of these life changing and life saving bail reforms for the troubling rise in violence in New York is disingenuous, and frankly, dangerous,” said FWD.us New York State Director of Criminal Justice Reform Rodney Holcombe. “It’s critical that elected leaders follow the facts on bail reform. The data prove that this law is working for everyday New Yorkers and those most at risk of senseless pretrial jailing. We are proud to collaborate with some of the people directly impacted by pretrial jailing to call on Albany to resist the same racist fearmongering and misinformation that have fueled mass incarceration for decades. New York needs more pretrial freedom, not less, and more investments in critical services that will actually advance safe and strong communities.”
A leaked document last week detailed proposals made by Hochul that would include a proposed expansion of a law requiring people who are in a mental health crisis to receive treatment as well as expanding the number of criminal charges in which bail would be set.
Hochul has so far declined to discuss the proposal in public, insisting she does not want to negotiate the budget in the media.
Top Democratic officials in the state Senate and Assembly have been opposed to making changes to the bail law, first approved in 2019. At the heart of the measure was the goal of reducing the number of people being held in local jails for their case to be adjudicated.
Many of the defendants who could not afford bail are low income people and people of color — highlighting a racial and economic disparity in the criminal justice system.
Republicans and law enforcement officials have been deeply critical of the measure, and Democrats from New York City Mayor Eric Adams to multiple lawmakers in the state Legislature have called for changes. Spurring the calls for change has been a rise in violent crime over the last year in New York, a trend seen across the country.