Nassau County Leaders Ignore Local Success, Amplify Lies About Bail Reform

Elected officials from Nassau County, the safest county in America for the two years since bail reform was enacted falsely blamed bail reform for crime and call on the New York State Legislature to needlessly revisit the modest laws.

Fact Check: False

The Briefing

Elected officials from Nassau County, the safest county in America for the two years since bail reform was enacted, gathered last week to falsely blame bail reform for crime and call on the New York State Legislature to needlessly revisit the modest laws. But the coalition of mayors continued to amplify misinformation and ignore recent data from their own County police force that points to the ongoing success of bail reform.

Blakeman’s Report Tells Story of Bail Reform Success

Although Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman claimed that bail reform was causing a “pandemic of crime” and accused proponents of it of “massaging the statistics,” it was his very own commissioned report of his own police department’s numbers that told the clearest story of the success of bail reform. 

In August, Blakeman was discredited by a report on crime in Nassau County that he requested himself. The data showed that just 7 percent of people released without bail were rearrested for any crime, with violent rearrest rates even lower and failed to prove any connection between pretrial release and increases in crime. Despite Blakeman’s repeated lies, Nassau County was named the safest county in America two years in a row following the enactment of bail reform.

Nassau County leaders cited several incidents to illustrate the “surge in crime” in their communities, conveniently ignoring data from their own police department that shows that rearrests have declined in the second year of bail reform. Moreover, the increase in crime leaders pointed to is happening in every corner of the county, in jurisdictions controlled by both parties, most of which have not implemented any policies that remotely resemble bail reform.

Judges Do (and Are Mandated to) Consider the Seriousness of the Offense

Anne Donnelly, the Nassau County District Attorney, said prosecutors need to have the ability to make the case for bail based on the severity of the crime. She, of all people, should know that judges in New York were required before and after bail reform to consider several factors related to the severity of a crime when making a decision about bail – including the charge itself, whether the charge is alleged to have caused serious harm, a person’s criminal history, past violations of orders of protection, and possession or use of a gun – and are mandated to explain why the court is or is not setting bail. Violent felonies and many non-violent felonies and misdemeanors remain bail eligible. 

Bail is a Successful Public Policy

Despite sensational claims like the ones described above, bail reform in New York has been a resounding success. Rearrest rates for violent felonies across the state are low and in decline. In New York City, a higher percentage of individuals released pretrial to defend themselves from a position of freedom have returned to court since bail reform than during a four-year period before the law went into effect. Bail reform upholds public safety and reduces the grave injustice of pretrial incarceration. 

If Nassau County leaders were truly concerned with safety, they would know that the safest communities are the ones with the most resources, not the highest jail populations. Their County proves the success of bail reform.

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