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LAS: Don't Buy Commissioner Shea’s Fearmongering on Bail, Discovery Reform

The Legal Aid Society, in response to a New York State Assembly hearing on gun violence, urged lawmakers to ignore calls from New York City Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Dermot Shea demanding additional rollbacks of the historic pretrial reforms – bail and discovery – which were enacted in 2020 and enjoy widespread public support, as reported by CBS 2 New York.

Commissioner Shea and others in law enforcement have continually faulted bail reform for the supposed rise in violent crime in New York City. However, using the City’s own data, this specious claim has been consistently debunked in the media.

“Since day one, Commissioner Shea and his police department have relied on falsehoods, fear mongering, dog whistling and other unscrupulous tactics to undermine bail reform. These lies are all they have since the data and evidence do not support their claims,” said Marie Ndiaye, Supervising Attorney of the Decarceration Project at The Legal Aid Society. “The reality is that these laws are keeping New Yorkers safe from the humanitarian crisis at Rikers Island, which has already claimed the lives of 12 people this year alone. The Legal Aid Society urges Albany lawmakers to build on the successes of these reforms.”

Earlier this week, Commissioner Shea and the NYPD falsely accused a Legal Aid client of a burglary in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, using this case as another reason to rollback bail reform. However, this client was fully exonerated as he was still incarcerated at Rikers Island the day of the incident.