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AG Letitia James says ‘spikes in crime’ don’t warrant adjustments to bail legislation


State Attorney General Letitia James instructed she’s a robust booster of New York’s controversial no-cash bail legislation and stated legislators ought to be “resisting the urge to overreact to spikes in crime” — by tightening the legislation with out credible knowledge.

James, the cease’s high legislation enforcement officer, was publicly mute this yr through the bruising debate over whether or not to tighten the bail legislation — a tug-of-war involving Mayor Eric Adams, Gov. Kathy Hochul and leaders of the Democratic-run legislature.

But she commented on the explosive difficulty in a solution to an endorsement questionnaire from the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic LGBT Club.

“We must follow the data and really look at it from an analytical perspective. That means ensuring we are resisting the urge to overreact to spikes in crime that have occurred during this pandemic, without dismissing them outright,” James stated.

“The challenge we have faced is getting accurate and complete data. The state Office of Court Administration released data at the end of December and had to immediately revise those numbers, which shows that we don’t yet have all of the information we need to guide us to a proper decision.”

She stated she would pay “close attention” and work with the legislature to “make sure we are getting it right.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul agreed with lawmakers to present judges a bit of extra leeway on deciding bail for a number of offenses.
Hans Pennink

James stated she helps the premise behind the legislation, which eliminates money bail for many defendants accused of misdemeanor and non-violent felony crimes. The legal guidelines bars the accused from being jailed pending trial just because they couldn’t publish bail.

“As a former public defender, I have seen firsthand how our criminal justice system has two standards for two different types of people: One for those with money and another for those without. It’s a system that for too long has criminalized poverty and mental illness,” James answered within the questionnaire from the Democratic membership.

“We must be able to reform our criminal justice system while also keeping people safe. We can and should be able to do both because that’s what the public deserves.”

NYC mayor Eric Adams




Mayor Eric Adams beforehand demanded Albany lawmakers to reverse the bail reform.
Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for The DiscOasis

But James declined to debate the current revisions tightening the bail legislation, saying because the state’s chief lawyer she could must defend it courtroom.

The no-cash bail legislation has stirred controversy because it was accepted by the Democratic-run legislature and former Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2019.

It was James in January of 2020 who urged legislators to revisit the legislation amid opposition from legislation enforcement, saying then that “safety should be the first priority.”

Cuomo and lawmakers tweaked the legislation in April of 2020, including a variety of new crimes to be re-eligible for bail — together with housebreaking within the second diploma, selling little one pornography, and vehicular manslaughter, principally related to drunk-driving fatalities.

Exterior view of the New York state Capitol where members of New York state's Electoral College will vote for President and Vice President in the Assembly Chamber is seen in Albany, New York on December 14, 2020.
James claims the state’s bail reform legislation nonetheless criminalizes “poverty and mental illness.”
HANS PENNINK/POOL/AFP by way of Getty Images

But strain to limit the bail legislation additional raged in 2021 and this yr, amid will increase in violent crime in New York City and different elements of the state.

Last June, James blamed a surge in shootings on gun trafficking in different elements of the nation and downplayed the impression of bail reform.

Her reply within the Jim Owles’ questionnaire seems to be her most intensive feedback on the subject of bail this yr.

Adams urged the legislature and Hochul to dramatically overhaul the no-cash bail legislation, together with giving judges extra discretion to impose bail on defendants by utilizing a “dangerous standard.”

In a compromise, the governor and lawmakers tweaked the legislation to present judges extra discretion in deciding bail for extra offenses, together with when a defendant has multiple case pending trial, for these with a historical past of utilizing weapons and whether or not they have been beforehand charged or convicted of inflicting severe hurt, or violating an order of safety.

Hate crimes and extra gun offenses are additionally bailable offenses.

But lawmakers refused to introduce a “dangerousness” normal for bail consideration. New York’s bail legal guidelines have prohibited utilizing dangerousness as a normal in setting bail since 1971.

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