Changes to New York's 2019 law that ended cash bail requirements for many criminal charges and other efforts to address public safety were needed in response to increasing crime, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday said.
But Hochul, fresh off the completion of her first spending plan, said the initial bail law should not be blamed for the rise in violent crime in New York, which has also been on the rise in other parts of the country.
"The crime rate in the first quarter of this year went up higher than anybody anticipated," Hochul told reporters after a campaign event in New York City on Monday. "We had to do something. I'm proud I was able to work with the legislative leaders. There was a lot of give and take, it was not an easy process. There was a lot of passion on both sides of the issue."
Lawmakers and Hochul agreed to a $220 billion spending plan that added more circumstances in which cash bail could be considered by a judge, such as for some gun trafficking charges as well as for alleged repeat offenders. Changing the law was opposed by some Democratic officials as well as criminal justice reform advocates, who had pushed for ways to reduce the number of people in local jails.
Hochul on Monday framed the overall policy effort in the budget, which includes a broader plan to tackle the flow of illegal guns into the state, as part of universal public safety push.
The governor, who is seeking a full term this year, had come under criticism for making her position on the bail law known only in March, not in February when she made her initial budget proposal.
But Hochul framed the final product as one that exceeded expectations for her at the state Capitol in Albany.
"I was able to deliver something for them that people in the media with their opinions thought we could not done. That was to have policy in the budget," she said. "Number two, it had very thoughtful, hard-fought negotiated plans to include public safety."