Commissioner Sewell Scapegoats Bail Reform for Increases in Certain Crimes

Last week, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell credited the Adams administration with the reported decrease in murders and shooting incidents, but said bail reform was to blame for rearrests of people charged with crimes. This is a baseless claim that represents a continuation of the same old tactics from the NYPD.

Fact Check: False, Fearmongering, Misleading

The Briefing

Last week, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell spoke to New Yorkers about the city’s recent crime statistics. She credited the Adams administration with the reported decrease in murders and shooting incidents, but said bail reform was to blame for rearrests of people charged with crimes. This is a baseless claim that represents a continuation of the same old tactics from the NYPD: When certain crimes are down, they credit police. When certain crimes are up, they say it is due to modest pretrial reform. 

The numbers reflect that rates of rearrest for violent felonies before and after bail reform have remained unchanged. Fewer than one percent of people on pretrial release in New York City are rearrested for a violent felony in any given month, a rate that remained constant before and after bail reform. 

Recidivism is evidence of a failure of incarceration – not an argument for greater arrests and punishment. Pretrial incarceration can exacerbate drivers of crime. By destabilizing and disrupting people’s lives pretrial incarceration increases the likelihood of future arrests and undermines the health and safety of individuals, families, and their communities. If jail was an effective public safety measure, people would not continue to commit crimes after release. 

The safest communities are the ones with the most resources, not the highest jail populations. Data show that community-based, public health-centered violence intervention programs do a better job of preventing and decreasing gun crime than policing and prosecution. If we want to address crime, we must look to proven methods of preventing it, rather than continuing to invest in a failed status quo. 

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Statement from Marvin Mayfield, Director of Center for Community Alternatives: 

“Everyone agrees that the safest communities have the most resources, not the highest arrest and incarceration rates. Yet police officials are pushing state lawmakers to double down on failed policies as the City slashes education funding and twiddles its thumbs at disappearing affordable housing options. Unless and until officials reckon with the fact that policing and incarceration has not and cannot solve the rampant inequality and lack of community investments that lead to arrests, we will continue to be barraged with these opportunistic and fear-mongering talking points, instead of real solutions to improve community safety.

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