Congressman Jacobs urges governor to rescind bail reform
This letter is directed to Governor Hochul.
I write to express my ongoing concerns about the flawed and failed bail reform laws which were passed in this state and signed into law by your predecessor in January 2020. Violent crime committed by repeat offenders in New York State is at now epidemic proportions, especially with such crimes as domestic abuse, that put women and children in our communities at grave risk.
I implore you to immediately call the legislature into emergency session to make the necessary reforms to this failed law to ensure public safety for all New Yorkers.
Just last week in Buffalo, NY – our shared hometown – a mother of three children was murdered by her estranged husband who was released on his own recognizance without bail, despite being brought in on domestic violence-related charges. This murder is yet another case of preventable death in our state.
It is unacceptable that a man with a record of violence and domestic abuse, one who had been recorded just days before beating his wife in their home and who was arrested on multiple domestic violence-related charges, could be released on his own recognizance because his charges were deemed “bail ineligible.”
Numerous studies have shown domestic violence incidents are not isolated, and escalation is highly probable. According to a 2016 study, 10 to 18 percent of those arrested for domestic violence are arrested again within six months, 15 to 30 percent face a second arrest within 28 months, and up to 60 percent are rearrested within 10 years. Had the judge been afforded judicial discretion in this case, this man would have not been released, and a life may have been saved.
This is one of many instances of a police officer making an arrest for a serious crime only to have that offender back in the community committing more violence. In August 2022, New York City Mayor Eric Adams released a study detailing how a group of career criminals has accumulated hundreds of arrests yet are still roaming the streets, free to commit additional crimes, due to our failed “bail reform” laws.
Your office’s defense that this problem was fixed or that these incidents are not data, but rather anecdotal evidence, disregards the countless families whose lives have been upended by violent crime committed by offenders who would otherwise be behind bars.
Our Erie County Democratic District Attorney John J. Flynn said after this needless murder, “This could easily be solved with one sentence in the bail law.” That one sentence would provide judges with discretion to consider “dangerousness” when determining bail.
We have a serious problem in New York State, and there is an immediate need for reform to our failed bail laws. I implore you to call an immediate special session of our legislature to first address the need for increased judicial discretion to limit the release of individuals who are arrested with domestic violence charges; and second, to reform the entire law to give judges the authority they previously had, and now desperately need, to keep dangerous individuals in custody. No family should have to suffer the pain of losing a loved one to a violent criminal who was set free under your failed system.
Congressman Chris Jacobs