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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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

11-18-2022 New York
Former NY Judge Admits Colleagues Violated Law, Misrepresents Bail Reform

A former judge in Western New York described how judges routinely violated the statutory purpose of bail and misrepresented the bail reform law. Larson also showed a callous disregard for the harms of pretrial incarceration and fearmongered about rearrests.

Fact Check: False

The Truth Read more

Bail is meant to ensure a person’s appearance in court. But Larson, drawing on his experience on the bench, stated that when judges subjectively perceived someone to be a threat to the community, they would set bail “in the guise of concern over the defendant showing up in court.” Larson is admitting that judges regularly violated the statutory purpose of bail in New York.

11-07-2022 New York
Nassau County Exec Lies About Bail Reform Again

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman – whose the county was named safest in the United States twice since bail reform took hold – and his allies once again peddled misleading statistics in a politicized attempt to connect bail reform with increased arrest numbers in their community.

Fact Check: False

The Truth Read more

The very report Blakeman commissioned to try to undermine bail reform, actually proved the opposite: as multiple outlets confirmed, rearrest rates have actually declined since bail reform. And Blakeman's statistics actually point to the ongoing success of bail reform in Nassau County. According to the report, fewer than 10 percent of people in Nassau County were rearrested for any offense – which is half the statewide rearrest rate for any alleged offense.

11-03-2022 New York
NY Post Wages Disinformation Campaign About Bail Reform

The Post is weaponizing the tragic murder of a Black Erie County woman to argue for mass pretrial detention for thousands more Black people. In so doing, the Post is using its “news” department to scare New Yorkers into voting for a gubernatorial candidate who voted to overturn the 2020 election as Congressman and has promised to rollback a host of important criminal legal reforms in New York.

Fact Check: Fearmongering

The Truth Read more

The grief and pain that family, friends and community members feel is real and unimaginable. But the Post chose to exploit that pain for political points, using the victim's mother to tie the case to bail reform, when the reality is much more complicated.

11-01-2022 New York
Schenectady Police Chief, Local Politicians Fearmonger About Bail Reform

Schenectady Police Chief Eric Clifford, along with several local politicians, fearmongered and misled the public about bail reform in an article in the Daily Gazette. Clifford falsely claimed that bail reform is connected to increases in crime, misrepresented the law, advocated for racist and opaque pretrial detention standards and lied about rearrests.

Fact Check: Fearmongering

The Truth Read more

First, years of research is conclusive and draws no connection between any increases in crime and bail reform. Next, the claim that bail reform changed law enforcement’s ability to detain people is misleading at best. Bail reform only affected some misdemeanors and low-level felonies. Judges can and do continue to set bail for people charged with violent felonies. Finally, we know that rearrests for violent felonies are exceptionally rare since bail reform went into effect.

10-24-2022 New York
Daily News Editorial Advocates For Racist, Opaque Pretrial Detention Standards

The New York Daily News Editorial Board fearmongered about bail reform in a recent editorial and advocated for racist and opaque standards to be applied to pretrial detention decisions in New York that have long been rejected by New Yorkers.

Fact Check: Fearmongering

The Truth Read more

“Dangerousness” has never been a standard for setting bail in New York, and the state definitively declined to adopt it in the 1970s – and for good reason. Allowing a judge’s (or algorithm’s) prediction of “dangerousness” to serve as a basis for holding someone in jail while they are presumed innocent has clearly yielded racist results based on data from jurisdictions that allow this practice.

10-20-2022 New York
Former NYS Supreme Court Judge Misleads Public About Bail Reform, Admits To Violating Law

A former New York Supreme Court judge misled the public about bail reform laws in an interview with a Buffalo news station

Fact Check: Misleading

The Truth Read more

Judge Penny Wolfgang acknowledged that – as a sitting judge – she made bail decisions based on who she believed should or should not be in jail and not based on the statutory purpose of bail, which is to ensure a person’s return to future court dates. In short, she admitted that during her decades-long tenure as a judge, she violated the Constitution and law.

10-13-2022 New York
Issue Briefing: Carceral Responses to Domestic and Sexual Violence

The tragic murder of an Erie County woman by her abusive partner has reignited misguided calls for carceral solutions to address sexual, domestic, and intimate partner violence (IPV). The Briefing outlines the often-devastating consequences of these carceral responses and explains why we should not rely on police and prosecutors to create better outcomes for survivors

Fact Check: Ineffective

The Truth Read more

We know that the safest communities are the ones with the most resources, not the highest jail populations. Early empirical results from voluntary pretrial diversion programs and community-based restorative justice practices suggest that they are more effective than traditional approaches in decreasing the likelihood of new arrests among perpetrators.

10-12-2022 New York
New York Post Lies About Sensational Subway Assault, Exploits Pain For False Narrative

The New York Post once again seized on a sensational instance of crime to call for rollbacks to modest reforms and incite public outrage. After an alleged subway assault involving women in green morph suits was caught on video, the Post published multiple stories about what they termed the “Green Goblin” crew and allowed – without correction – a source in the story to falsely blame bail reform for the incident.

Fact Check: False

The Truth Read more

Bail reform had nothing to do with this case. The one person who has been arrested to date was charged with second-degree robbery – a Class C Violent Felony, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 3.5 years and maximum of 15. This charge, like all violent felonies, remains untouched by bail reform. A judge could have set bail in this case, but apparently opted for supervised release instead, apparently based in part on the individual’s relative lack of involvement.

10-11-2022 New York
New York Post Spreads Misinformation About Bail Reform

The New York Post published yet another misleading and divisive story calculated to direct anger and hatred toward people in need of help and away from the failures of our current, misguided punishment-based approach to public health.

Fact Check: Misleading

The Truth Read more

The Post wrote about a New York resident’s history of arrests, suggesting his most recent arrests were a consequence of bail reform. This is false. The man’s record of arrest dates back to 2000, meaning that many, if not most of these arrests, predated bail reform entirely. Moreover, the recent incidents cited in the article are examples of attempted petty theft from major chain stores, in which nothing was actually stolen.

10-11-2022 New York
New York Post Editorial Fearmongers, Lies About Bail Reform

The New York Post continued to fearmonger and lie about bail reform amid a tragic killing on the subway last week, publishing an editorial falsely tying the incident to modest reforms.

Fact Check: False

The Truth Read more

Bail reform had nothing to do with the underlying case or the current case. Moreover, the Post lied about a "tide of violence" in New York. There is no “tide of violence” connected to bail reform. In New York City, incidents of violent crime are at historic lows. Rearrests for alleged violent crimes remained exceptionally rare after bail reform was enacted, just as before.

10-07-2022 New York
Albany County District Attorney David Soares Lies About Bail Reform Following Unsolved Crimes

Albany County District Attorney David Soares lied to his constituents and the people of New York this past week about bail reform. First, Soares falsely scapegoated bail reform for instances of crime in his community without any information to back his claims up. Second, Soares lied about the prevalence of rearrests for gun possession when such cases are nearly non-existent. Third, Soares lied about which accusations bail reform cover. Finally, Soares advocated for increased pretrial detention of children.

Fact Check: False

The Truth Read more

In the wake of two unsolved shootings in Albany, Soares asserted, without evidence, that bail reform has “demonstrably impacted violent crime in our most vulnerable neighborhoods.” It is true that tragic instances of harm occur, but research draws no connection between bail reform and any increases in crime. Pretrial arrest rates for violent crimes are nearly identical pre- and post-bail reform.

10-07-2022 New York
Tragic Killing On Subway Falsely Tied To Bail Reform

A tragic killing on the subway is being used to call for rollback to modest bail laws because the man alleged to have committed the crime was free on pretrial supervision for separate charges.

Fact Check: False

The Truth Read more

Bail reform made no difference in this case. Neither the current case nor the man's underlying case had anything to do with bail reform. The man accused was not released on pretrial supervision because of bail reform at the time he allegedly committed this other act of violence. The earlier case from 2021, on which he was released, was a violent felony, which was eligible for bail before and after bail reform.

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The Latest

Chicago Reader: Keep the Pretrial Fairness Act as is

"Provisions in the proposed amendments would remove the guardrails set up to achieve the law’s goal of reducing pretrial jailing while protecting public safety. The result of adopting these changes would be devastating; they would increase pretrial jailing, worsen racial disparities, and make our communities less safe."

Sun-Times: Putting an end to dead-end drug arrests is the right move

"The War on Drugs has mostly been a failure. Society can win at least one of the smaller battles by supporting strategies that steer the lowest-level offenders into treatment for their addiction."

The Intercept: Chicago sheriff denies new rights laid out in criminal justice reform

"Reform advocates said Cook County policies violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the new law, with Illinois lawmakers pushing to undo even more reforms."

Sun-Times: No bailing out on SAFE-T Act

"The blue wave that washed over Illinois on Tuesday gives Democrats the political cover to argue that despite the GOP blitzkrieg of negative TV ads, voters agree the provisions in the SAFE-T Act are sound public policy."

New York Daily News: To fight crime, be economically progressive

"Evidence shows that locking more and more people up and other punitive criminal justice policies are costly, ineffective and racist...Workforce and economic policies, including initiatives aimed at low-income workers still dislocated by the pandemic, strengthening the social safety net, and increasing affordable housing are what really makes a candidate tough on crime."

East Hampton Star: The truth about bail reform

"The claim that bail reform in New York State has led to an increase in violence is not supported by facts. This centerpiece of Representative Lee Zeldin’s campaign for governor, as well as that of many down-ticket candidates, has been widely rejected as false, but you would not know that from the barrage of advertisements making the link, when all the evidence is to the contrary. This may not matter to the intended audience, for whom the message is meant to amplify fear and motivate their vote."

Newsday: Bail reform takeaways from new stats: Little increase in rearrests, court truancy

"Two years into New York’s bail reform law, a new state report shows that criminal suspects are being rearrested at roughly the same rate as they were before the overhaul of the bail law was enacted. It also indicates that judges, who can’t assess bail as frequently as before, are increasingly deploying non-monetary supervision tools such as ankle bracelets to monitor suspects. And it shows that the bail reform law hasn’t sparked a rash of no-shows at required court appearances, as some had feared."

Times-Union: One more time —the problem isn't bail reform

"It’s downright insulting how gullible some politicians seem to think New Yorkers are. Case in point: blaming bail reform for crimes that have nothing to do with it"

Cash bond reforms will make Illinois more fair

"Instead of prioritizing safety and using data to inform our pretrial policies, we have allowed fear to drive our policies and created a biased system that benefits those with financial means."

State Senator: Ending money bond won’t be the doomsday some are predicting

“By focusing on the risk an individual may pose to another person’s safety — and not their financial means — the Pretrial Fairness Act ensures that the safety of our communities is the central factor in a judge’s decision on whether to release someone pretrial.”

Ending cash bond in Illinois will make communities safer

“[The SAFE-T Act is] a way to make it safer in our communities, not less safe. The more people that understand that, the more we will be able to move to a society and a justice system that better addresses the needs of communities and not just the needs of people who can pay for themselves when they are accused of a crime”

There’s no ‘Purge Law’: Debunking right-wing propaganda about the SAFE-T Act’

“Republican elected officials and their allies have incessantly spread myths, half-truths, and obvious falsehoods about the SAFE-T Act.”

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