Across the country, we’re seeing movements achieve historic wins for fairness, racial justice, public health, and public safety. A new law ending cash bail in Illinois. Prosecutors in California, who care more about fairness than punishment. Marijuana legalization in New York that reinvests in communities. Yet prosecutors and police are fighting back with the same polarizing scare tactics that created mass incarceration to perpetuate it. We must demand justice not fear.

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At this pivotal moment, we should be building a fairer, safer future. Instead, our leaders are using fear to double down on the status quo.

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STORY COLLECTION FORM FOR PUBLIC DEFENDERS

Right now, pro-carceral law enforcement and prosecutors are cherry-picking outlier cases and misrepresenting facts, the law itself, and case outcomes to try to defeat New York’s bail and discovery reform. We hope to collect your real stories about people released under the bail law. Please submit only one case story per form and please be careful not to provide information that may identify the client. If you have any questions, please contact us at stories@justicenotfear.org.

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The Briefing:

The honest truth about bail reform written by criminal justice experts

05-11-2022 New York
Mayor Adams Falsely Blames Bronx Shooting on Bail Reform

Mayor Eric Adams falsely blamed a recent shooting on bail reform when the person involved was, according to police, awaiting sentencing after having pled guilty. Anything that happens after trial or a plea has been taken has no connection to bail whatsoever.

Fact Check: False, Fearmongering

The Latest Read more

The shooting that took place in the Bronx on Tuesday night has no connection to pretrial freedom. Anything that happens after trial or a plea has been taken has no connection to bail whatsoever.

05-10-2022 New York
Monroe County Sheriff Lies About Bail Reform

The Monroe County Sheriff attempted to tie bail reform to a recent rise in shootings without supportive data. This increase is not tied to bail reform, but is occurring in jurisdictions across the country.

Fact Check: False, Fearmongering

The Latest Read more

Just yesterday, the C.D.C issued a report on surging nation-wide gun deaths in the pandemic’s first year. This increase is not tied to bail reform, but is occurring in jurisdictions across the country.

03-17-2022 New York
Despite Facts, Gov. Hochul Caves to Fearmongering on Bail

Gov. Hochul’s proposal to roll back modest reforms threatens hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. It is based on a concerted disinformation campaign by anti-reform officials and lobbyists.

Fact Check: Fearmongering, False

The Latest Read more

All New Yorkers deserve safety, and the safest communities have the greatest resources—not the highest incarceration rates.

03-15-2022 New York
NYPD Commissioner Lies About Bail Reform, Calls for Racist “Dangerousness” Standard

NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell has joined calls to roll back bail reform, falsely claiming that judges are legally prohibited from ever setting bail.

Fact Check: Fearmongering, False

The Latest Read more

The law, C.P.L. § 510.10, defines bail-eligible charges. These include felonies classified as violent, certain misdemeanors including sexual offenses, any charge against a person on parole or probation, and certain rearrests for otherwise non-bail-eligible charges.

03-15-2022 New York
Manhattan Institute Article Spreads Misinformation about New York Reforms

This piece from the Manhattan Institute cites multiple clearly discredited stories in support of the false proposition that modest reforms in New York are to blame for causing widespread harm in New York City.

Fact Check: Fearmongering, False

The Latest Read more

Among much else, this piece relies on the NYPD's account of the case of a Bronx teenager that was fully discredited by video footage.

03-08-2022 New York
Damaging NYPD Lies in Prominent Case of Teenager Uncovered

The NYPD claimed that a teenager shot a police officer and then walked free because of lax bail laws was recently debunked in the courtroom.

Fact Check: Fearmongering, False

The Latest Read more

Judge Naita Semaj determined that NYPD Officer Taulant Gjonbalaj and his colleagues lied in this case, finding the “incredible…self serving” police testimony “had no value.” Video fully discredited the police account.

03-07-2022 New York
Syracuse Police Falsely Tie a Teen’s Rearrest to Bail Reform

The Syracuse Police Department falsely claimed that a teen's rearrest on gun charges was tied to bail. WAER reprinted these claims without any correction or further information.

Fact Check: Fearmongering, False

The Latest Read more

Possessing a firearm is a bail-eligible offense. This case was in no way related to bail reform.

03-02-2022 New York
Mayor Adams and NY Post Wrongly Blame Bail Reform for Release of Man in Subway Incident

The New York Post falsely claimed that the man’s release in a highly-publicized Bronx case was due to bail reform. In truth, just as prior to reform, this person's release was left to the discretion of the judge.

Fact Check: Fearmongering

The Latest Read more

It is a fallacy and distraction from discussions about advancing public safety to blame this upsetting occurrence on bail reform.

02-25-2022 New York
Westchester County Officials Debunked by Their Own Data

Multiple officials in Westchester County are fearmongering about rising crime and falsely tying a non-existent county crimewave to discovery and bail reform.

Fact Check: Fearmongering, False, Lies, Data

The Latest Read more

As the largest city in Westchester County, Yonkers is home to more than 20% of the total county population. And according to the numbers released by the County, crime in Westchester is way down.

02-24-2022 New York
Long Island Man’s Release Falsely Blamed on Bail Reform

Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder falsely blamed bail reform for a man’s freedom at the time of an alleged attempted burglary.

Fact Check: False, Fearmongering

The Latest Read more

Because the person accused of attempting to burglarize a nail salon was “released on bail” at the time of the incident, his prior charge was bail eligible and therefore release was not due to bail reform.

02-24-2022 New York
In Recent Resolution, Cayuga County Legislature Reveals Deep Misunderstanding of Reform

The authors of both the resolution and this article clearly misunderstand—or are misrepresenting—the previous language and intent of New York’s bail statute and discovery reforms.

Fact Check: Misleading

The Latest Read more

The Cayuga County Legislature misrepresents the intent and impact of pretrial reforms.

02-18-2022 New York
Misleading Headline Suggests “Progessive Prosecutors’” Policies Responsible for Rise in Violence

NYT headline implying that rolling back “tough-on-crime policies” is connected to any increase in violence is misleading.

Fact Check: Misleading

The Latest Read more

Increases in violence are occurring nationwide, and there is no evidence tying these increases to “progressive” policies or reforms.

See All

The Latest

Washington Post: Bail reform did not spike crime

"Rising gun violence over the past two years makes bail reform and other common-sense measures an easy target. However, when we blame the wrong cause, we miss the opportunity to identify the right solutions."

Legal Aid Society: Statewide Survey Shows Success of Discovery Reform

"The survey results revealed that the vast majority of criminal defense attorneys across New York State believe that discovery reform has achieved the desired results and has positively impacted not only their ability to provide competent representation, but also the fairness of New York’s criminal justice system."

City and State: Why bail reform is worth defending from politicization

"In over 40 years in criminal justice, I’ve often witnessed elected officials seek to aggrandize themselves during times of heightened fear. That is how the current era of mass incarceration was born."

AMNY: Families of those deceased in city jails urge Governor to halt bail policy changes: letter

"'Melania Brown, Akeem Browder, and many more who have been bound together through the pain of losing a loved one behind bars have dedicated their lives to preventing other families from experiencing that same grief. However, these brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters turned activists now believe there will be a lot more grief spread if the Governor continues her present course."

City Limits: Gov. Hochul’s Bail Plan Will Upend Years of Reform While Failing to Address Safety

"With just days remaining before New York State’s budget deadline, Hochul’s last minute plan—which was dropped on the same day of another tragic death at Rikers Island—would roll back bail reform and expand pretrial detention rates statewide, while doing nothing to advance true safety."

NY Daily News: The governor’s plan will create more Kalief Browders

"The death of my brother Kalief Browder sparked an international outcry — not just because of the terrible injustices he faced, but because he defied the odds, refused to plead guilty to a crime he did not commit, and demanded fairness. In honor of his fight, I have been demanding fairness, too, through the Kalief Browder Foundation. Now is a moment we must all rise up to stop a new plan by Gov. Hochul that could lead to countless more tragedies like the one my family suffered."

NY Daily News: Bail reform isn’t driving NYC’s crime increase

"Some pundits and policymakers are still blaming New York’s bail reform legislation for recent rises in violent crime. But what we know so far does not support this claim. Indeed, new data suggests that our state’s enactment of bail reform did not drive the increases in violent crime. Rather than rehashing the bail reform debate, it’s time for Albany to look for effective, community-led solutions to violent crime."

Brennan Center: The Facts on Bail Reform and Crime Rates

"There is no clear connection between recent crime increases and the bail reform law enacted in 2019, and the data does not currently support further revisions to the legislation."

NY Daily News: There is ‘no evidence’ bail reform rollback would cut crime: NYC Comptroller Brad Lander

"'The data is clear that bail reform is not a contributor to the increase in crime,' Lander told the Daily News. 'I think it’s important to base our policy on facts rather than fear. So whatever people’s position is, I hope they will just take a look at the data.'"

Gothamist: Spike in violence unrelated to NY bail reforms, Sen. Krueger says

"'The data continues to reflect that the changes we made in bail are not correlated to the growth in gun violence or physical violence towards others on the streets,' [Sen. Kreuger] said Friday."

NY Daily News: When police lies fuel racist fearmongering

"Video fully discredited the police account. But the case and fearmongering coverage had already been used to denigrate the young person, undermine any presumption of his innocence, and mislead the public to believing that modest pre-trial reforms in New York were to blame."

NY Daily News: The real prosecution crisis in New York: It’s not what you may think

"But the real crisis in prosecutions, both in New York and elsewhere in the United States, is not leniency, but punitiveness, along with an ironclad interest in protecting the office above all else and, relatedly, in preserving relationships with police and the powerful at the expense of justice and everyday constituents."

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