With the new New York State bail reform being in effect for nearly two months now, it is important to look at the details that the bill encompass, the consequences that come along with it, and the reasoning behind the passing of the bill.
This bill entails the elimination of the cash bail system for many crimes that include misdemeanors and non-violent felonies, as well as taking away judges’ discretion on considering if someone is violent to hold them or not for those crimes. Previously, bail was used as a guarantee by the defendant to show up to their assigned court date.
The bill looks good on paper, but in reality, it does not work as well as it is intended to. With the elimination of the cash bail system for these crimes that people have been charged with, they are free to go until their court date arrives without having to put a cash bail for them to show up for court. The reason for this is to bring equality to the people who cannot afford to put up bail and must stay in jail until their court date has arrived.
Equality between the people who can post bail and those who cannot is important to strive for. But the cash bail system is what incentivizes people to show up to court dates, since if they do not show up, they do not get their money back. Without bail, the people accused of these crimes are only being held to the repercussions they face for not showing up to court, such as a warrant for their arrest, which in itself should be enough of a reason not to skip court or commit another crime – but sadly, that does not stop some people.
One such person is Tiffany Harris. According to The New York Times, she assaulted Orthydox Jewish women three separate times after being released without bail. This particular example gives a good look at both sides of the argument. On one hand, if bail had been enforced, she may not have been able to re-commit these crimes; but this woman had been suffering from mental health issues, which her release could help her receive treatment that she needed.
This bill was also meant to decrease the prison population. But realistically, looking at what this bill has allowed people to do has been causing more issues in its current state than it is worth. According to the New York City government website, crime rates in January of 2020 have risen an overall of 16.9% compared to January 2019 where it dropped 7.4%. Whether you attribute this rise in crime in the state’s largest city to either just a natural rise or a direct impact of this bill, this bill is not helping the situation. It is apparent that this bill is far from perfect in its current form, and to see its intended effects, it should be modified.