A coalition of local government lawmakers on Tuesday are set to release a letter urging top elected officials in state government to not alter the cash bail law.
The measure ends cash bail requirements for those facing misdemeanor and non-violent felonies. It has become a focal point of controversy for law enforcement and Republican lawmakers, who have pointed to the release of people facing charges for crimes like robbery.
Supporters of the law, however, contend opposition has beens stoked by fear mongering and sensationalism.
"New York’s bail law was never designed to protect the public from supposedly dangerous people," the lawmakers wrote in the letter. "As you well know, the only reason to set bail in New York State is to ensure that the accused returns to court proceedings. Our former system served only criminalized poverty and let people that our system supposedly considered innocent languish in jails. This botched system contributed to mass incarceration and cost our local communities millions of dollars a year in jail costs."
The officials signing on to the letter represent local governments across the state including Buffalo, Rochester, Binghamton, New York City and throughout the Hudson Valley.
The law, however, has become unpopular with voters statewide. A Siena College poll released on Monday found 59 percent of voters believe the measure is "bad" for New York.
Democrats in the state Senate have proposed an amendment that would end cash bail entirely, but allow judges in some instances to determine if a person should be released from jail pending trial.
Criminal justice advocates and some Democrats in the state Assembly have criticized that proposal over the concern it would continue keeping people of color in jail.
A copy of the letter from members of local governments to state leaders can be found below.