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Former NYC Police Commissioner Calls State's Bail Reform Law the 'Height of Arrogance'

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New York State’s elimination of cash bail is being championed as a way to help low-income residents of the state facing the criminal justice system, but many current and former officials across the state strongly disapprove of it.

Former New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly weighed in on the law and called it the “height of arrogance.”

“The passage of this bail reform act really is the height of arrogance on the part of the New York State Legislature,” Kelly said in an interview on the “The Cats Roundtable with John Catsimatidis” on Sunday.

At the beginning of 2020, the state implemented a new law that eliminates cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies.

It was intended to address what some saw as a two-tiered criminal justice system, where poor residents have to go to jail because they can’t pay bail — leading to further disruptions to their lives. Meanwhile, wealthier residents pay bail and continue their day to day lives while awaiting trial.

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But, Kelly slammed lawmakers for the manner in which they drafted and passed the law. He said that they did not reach out to law enforcement officials for their opinions on the matter. 

“They had no public discussions when this legislation was being put together. They had no consultations with district attorneys, with police executives, with judges. They just did it because they could do it. And they shoved it down the public’s throat, and now we’re seeing the ramifications of it.”

Listen to the interview below:

Kelly acknowledged that some states have implemented reform laws that “seem to be working fairly well” but noted, “They have a component that the New York State legislation does not have, and that is judicial discretion.”

He explained:

“In other words, judges can take a look at an individual [and] make a determination as to whether or not he or she is going to present a danger to the public. And keep that person in jail or perhaps put a bail on them. That cannot be done in New York State.”

Additionally, he slammed the legislature for not fostering a robust discussion about what new law would do.

“The goal of this legislation is to allow 90% of the people that are arrested, that come before a judge, to be released without bail. Now those folks, a good portion of them, would have been incarcerated because they could not have met bail under the old law.”

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“So, that means they’re out free to commit other crimes. This should have been brought to the public’s attention. It should have been vigorously debated,” he added.

Finally, Kelly suggested that it was “only logical” that there would be an increase in crime in the city, “because people have the opportunity” due to the new bail reform.

The New York City Police Department’s crime statistics for the first two months of the year found that crimes committed by those who benefited from the law represent 1.8% of crimes for the year so far.

Amid a rising tide of concerns of the law, state lawmakers said they are ready to make changes to the bail reform to address some of the issues they have with it. 

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