Common-Sense Bail Proposal to Eliminate Confusion in Conflicting Laws and Hold Repeat Offenders and Violent Criminals Accountable
Governor Kathy Hochul Wednesday announced new statewide crime data and highlighted the need for public safety investments and reforms included in her Fiscal Year 2024 budget.
During a speech at the Capitol, the Governor outlined her $491.9 million investment in proven strategies to address and prevent gun crime and violence, reduce recidivism, and help the criminal justice system continue to rebound from pandemic-era disruptions.
Shooting incidents with injury declined 17 percent in New York City and 15 percent in the 20 communities that report gun violence data to the state when comparing last year to 2021, and those incidents continued to decline in early 2023.
The number of reported murders declined 11 percent statewide in last year, with 94 fewer individuals killed, and while overall index crime increased 21 percent, those numbers are nowhere near those seen in three decades ago. Governor Hochul also made the case for her common-sense proposal to remove the “least restrictive” standard the state’s bail law, which is key to restoring judicial discretion and holding accountable those who continually reoffend and commit violent crimes.
“New Yorkers deserve a criminal justice system that prioritizes both safety and justice,” Governor Hochul said. “Protecting New Yorkers is my number one priority, which is why my budget proposal includes record-level investments and proven strategies to ensure my administration can do just that. We are working overtime to fight crime across our state and are moving in the right direction but won’t stop until every New Yorker can live in safety.”
Governor Hochul also reiterated the need for her common-sense bail proposal to eliminate any confusion in the law. It would build upon other revisions made to the law since it took effect on January 1, 2020, which also focused on making sure that judges have discretion to set bail for those accused of serious crimes and repeat offenses.
On one hand, the law limits judges to making pretrial determinations based solely on the “least restrictive means” necessary to ensure a defendant’s return to court.
On the other hand, the law also directs judges to consider a range of other factors when setting bail. This results in finger-pointing and confusion when defendants commit additional crimes of violence.
Governor Hochul’s proposal restores a judge’s discretion to consider factors already included in the law and make the appropriate individualized determination.
Governor Hochul highlighted her comprehensive criminal justice platform, additional crime trends that show progress achieved to date and improvements that still need to occur to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the system.
Shooting incidents with injury continue to decline this year, with 55 fewer people (-34 percent) shot in the 20 communities that report gun violence data to the state and participate in the Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) initiative and 44 fewer individuals (-21 percent) wounded by gunfire in New York City, as of March 12, 2023. Overall index crime increased 21 percent: violent crime (murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault), 10 percent, and property crime (burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft), 24 percent, during the same timeframe.
Key criminal justice system metrics have not rebounded to pre-pandemic levels in 2019, when New York State experienced an all-time low in reported crime after seven consecutive years of declines.
Misdemeanor and felony arrests increased in 2022 but are still tracking lower than numbers reported by police agencies from 2017 through 2019.
At the same time, the state’s courts resolved fewer cases last year: 118,378 dispositions reported when compared to dispositions that occurred annually from 2017 through 2019.
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services Commissioner Rossana Rosado said, “Equity and fairness are two pillars of the criminal justice system that are vital to ensure it is working effectively for all New Yorkers. Everyone who calls New York home should be able to rest assured that the system is continually improving to keep us safe. I am thankful for Governor Hochul’s support and partnership in our commitment to true justice and safety for all.”
Governor Hochul’s budget proposal doubles down on programs that have proven successful, investing $337 million: $110 million increase from FY 2023 budget, which contained the largest investment in public safety funding in a generation. The FY 2024 proposal includes:
- $84.1 million for youth employment programs, of which $37 million is for programs in Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) jurisdictions.
- $70 million for communities to respond to the aftermath of gun violence, of which $50 million is for community capital needs.
- $36.4 million for the Gun Involved Elimination (GIVE) initiative.
- $31.1 million for crime reduction, youth justice, and gang prevention programs.
- $25.9 million for State Police Community Stabilization Units (CSUs), increasing the number of these units from 16 to 25.
- $25 million for the SNUG Street Outreach program.
- $18 million for the state-supported Crime Analysis Center network, including the establishment of a new center in New York City, bringing the number of centers statewide to 11.
The Executive Budget proposal also includes significant funding to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the criminal justice system:
- $52 million in aid to prosecution funding for all 62 district attorneys’ offices.
- $40 million to funding to support discovery reform implementation.
- $31.4 million for alternatives to incarceration programs.
- $20 million for pretrial services.
- $11.5 million for 20 County Re-entry Task Forces, which help individuals reintegrate to their communities after serving prison sentences.
Taken together, these investments fund a comprehensive plan that address all facets of the system.
Since taking office, Governor Hochul has taken actions to strengthen New York State’s gun violence prevention laws by banning ghost guns, large capacity magazines and body armor; expanding bail eligibility for gun crimes; raising the age to purchase semi-automatic weapons to 21; and launching the first-in-the-nation Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns, which met again in mid-March, among other initiatives.