Legal Aid Society


Op-Ed: Albany Must Keep Bail Reform in Place

Arielle Reid, a Supervising Attorney with The Legal Aid Society’s Decaracertion Project has penned a new op-ed in the New York Daily News refuting Governor Kathy Hochl’s calls to further erode 2019’s bail reforms in her State of the State address.

Hochul’s proposed amendment – removing the requirement that courts consider the least restrictive means for ensuring the accused’s presence -is a solution in search of a problem,” Reid writes. “The least restrictive means standard is itself an exercise of discretion. Courts across New York State make that individualized determination for every person that comes before them, taking into consideration the nature of the charges, the accused’s personal history and circumstances, criminal record, and other enumerated factors.”

The bail reforms of 2019 have already been rolled back twice, and the consequences have been severe. Incarceration rates are up and bail is more expensive than before the reforms were enacted. The conditions in City jails remain dire with 19 individuals losing their lives in Department of Correction custody last year alone.

“Good governance requires the courage to prioritize people over politics, to reject soundbites in favor of real solutions. For far too long our elected officials have offered us a false choice: safety or incarceration,” she writes. “But everything we know about it indicates that pretrial detention actually undermines safety, taking adults out of work and children out of school, caregivers out of reach and families out of homes, confining them to sites of profound physical and psychological violence for weeks, months, and even years, only to leave them more likely to reoffend than they were previously. When will we stop repeating the same failed carceral policies and expecting a different result?”

Read the full piece here.