Poll: support drops for NY’s bail reform law


WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - It has been the law for less than a month, but the public is already turning against New York’s new bail reform law.

Instead of locking people up when they're arrested, the new law says people charged with nonviolent crimes must be freed without bail.

Supporters like Governor Cuomo say it ensures poor people get the same treatment from the courts as people with money.

Local defense attorney John Hallett agrees.

"Let's say the son of a doctor gets arrested with the son of a farmer and bail is set at $25,000. The doctor is going to be able to post that bail for his son very quickly, while the farmer's son is going to sit in jail while his case pends, and that is certainly not fair," he said.

But there’s been some big push back too. Republican state legislators want the law repealed.

"Right now, we're looking for a full repeal and start all over with the bill," said Assemblymen Ken Blankenbush, who serves the 117th District.

And even defense attorneys are interested in reforms.

"Because it takes all the discretion away from all of your local town judges ad town magistrates," said Hallett.

And now, support for the law is dropping. Last year, 55 percent of New Yorkers surveyed by Siena Research Institute thought the law would be good for New York - 17 percent higher than naysayers.

Now, only 37 percent of voters support the law, while 49 percent oppose.

"So what we see is it went from 17 points on the positive side back in April to 12 points on the negative side. That's a 29 point negative shift," said Steven Greenberg, Siena College pollster.

This law is barely a month old, so why the drop in support? One pro-reform group calls the drop a result of “months of fearmongering and misinformation.” And the group points out cash bail was eliminated in Kings County downstate three years ago and violent crime is down nearly 20 percent.

Copyright 2020 WWNY. All rights reserved.