Brian Kolb’s guest essay (Nov. 9, 2019) on New York state’s bail reform law is a classic case of misinformation and fear-mongering.
The law limits cash bail for misdemeanors and nonviolent felony arrest. It does not eliminate bail for sex offender misdemeanor or criminal contempt for an order of protection violation in a domestic violence case. It also does not eliminate bail for witness intimidation, conspiracy to commit murder, some offenses against children, acts of terrorism and some other cases.
The use of bail to incarcerate people who are accused, not convicted, of a crime is in violation of the constitutional right of innocence until proven guilty. Furthermore, research by criminologist Aurelie Ouss and law professor Megan Stevenson reported, “We found that reducing the use of monetary bail for nonviolent offenders has no detectable effect on retrial misconduct.” The practicality of limiting bail for nonviolent misdemeanors is demonstrated by the experience in Philadelphia where bail was eliminated in 2018.
Misinformation and fear-mongering is the staple of Brian Kolb’s argument. We need leaders in Albany who will use reason and knowledge, not fear, to make laws.