Representative Elise Stefanik and 10 New York Congressional Republicans introduced federal legislation this week to encourage New York to adopt a dangerousness standard in bail decisions, a proposal that would widen a judge’s ability to speculate about who might commit a future crime.
Congressional New York Republicans, led by Rep. Elise Stefanik, introduced federal legislation this week to encourage New York to adopt a dangerousness standard in bail decisions, a proposal that would widen a judge’s ability to speculate about who might commit a future crime.
The proposal is a disingenuous political stunt that only further underscores that Stefanik and her caucus do not care about actual solutions to the root causes of instances of harm and crime.
Stefanik – who supports Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, references QAnon conspiracies on Twitter and campaigned on racist themes from “great replacement” theory – proposed legislation that would direct federal dollars for “anti-recidivism grant funding” to states that create a dangerousness standard in bail and pretrial release decisions. States also must “take steps to hire and retain law enforcement or administer a public awareness campaign that combats anti-police sentiment and improves community-police relations.”
Dangerousness standards produce racist results and increased pretrial jail populations while further introducing ambiguity and opacity into our criminal legal system. Any dangerousness standard would only further exacerbate racial disparities in New York’s jails, where Black and brown people make up 73 percent of New Yorkers incarcerated in jail but 36 percent of the state’s population.
The reality is that Stefanik and New York Congressional Republicans do not care about the health and safety of New Yorkers. In addition to fearmongering and lying about bail reform, Stefanik and other New York Republicans have called for the complete repeal of bail reform in the past, ignoring years of data that point to the ongoing success of bail reform. Bail reform upholds public safety and is not connected to any increases in crime, while protecting freedom and promoting fiscal responsibility. If Stefanik and her supporters were serious about safety, they would advocate for protecting, not undermining, a massively successful public safety policy.
Stefanik’s proposal to tie federal grant money to ostensibly address crime to a policy that would increase jail populations is a dishonest political ploy with real consequences for vulnerable New Yorkers. Jails do not make us safer. Pretrial detention is particularly damaging, leading to harsher punishments and increasing the likelihood of future criminal legal system contact. An effective use of resources would be investments in solutions that actually address root causes of harm and reduce crime. As outlined by Vera Institute, such solutions include:
-- Non-police responses to behavioral health crises and expanded access to crisis centers and mental health resources within communities
-- Permanent supportive housing programs, which can reduce jail time and produce significant fiscal and social benefits
-- Investments in community mediation programs (One such program in Brooklyn deescalated almost 400 conflicts in a single year)
-- Community violence intervention programs that rely on credible messengers, which are associated with reductions in violence
New York Post story on Stefanik's proposal