Standing together in the Capitol in Albany on Monday, Gov. Kathy Hochul and state Attorney General Letitia James said they will analyze pretrial release and other data in wake of changes the Legislature made to the state's cashless bail laws this spring.
Gov. Hochul left changing the state's bail laws open for discussion when the Legislature returns for session in January.
"We're willing to look at the laws again, but let's look at the data," she said.
James didn't rule out the possibility of taking another look at the state's bail reform laws that have remained a focus on discussion this election cycle. Recent polls show crime and public safety remain a top concern for voters. She stressed the importance of studying the data of many factors affecting the crime rate.
"We cannot look at bail reform in isolation," the attorney general said. "We need to look at a wide range of other issues, including but not limited to our mental health system, the lack of pretrial services, the lack of probation officers the lack of correction officers and the list goes on and on and on. To be fixated on bail reform without regards to looking at data, I think, is a misstep.
"I think the addage goes, 'You're looking at the forest for the trees.'"
Cashless bail rules were amended in the latest state budget passed in April, including additional factors judges can consider when making a decision on bail, an expansion for when bail can be set for gun crimes, repeat offenders and more. Those changes took effect May 9.
The governor said the Legislature will review the data with legislative leaders when session resumes in January, providing more than six months of data since the tweaks took effect.
"We will look at the data — we’ll see what’s working, we'll see what's not working," Hochul said. "Six months of data is still a small sampling, but we'll be able to see what's going on and we'll be able to see the nationwide phenomenon."
In August, Hochul said it was too soon to consider other changes. The governor slightly changed her tune Monday, 15 days before Election Day, after recent polls show a tightening gubernatorial race with Republican opponent U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, of Long Island.
"We can look at bail reform... let's analyze the data," said James, adding of further changes to the law, "Before we even get there, we can look at the other issues which are drivers of crime as well."
Lawmakers adopted cashless bail rules for most misdemeanors and nonviolent crimes in 2019 to prevent people who cannot afford bail from languishing in jail for low-level offenses.