Dem Lawmaker Wants Repeat Offenders Bail Eligible
At least one Democrat wants to make sure judges can set bail for repeat offenders regardless of whether their charge would normally be eligible for bail.
Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Schenectady, has introduced legislation in the Assembly (A.8026) that would give judges the ability to set bail if someone is charged at least three times with the same offense over a period of two years. The legislation doesn’t require a judge to set bail, but gives judges the ability to set bail, release someone on their own recognizance or with non-monetary conditions.
“The repeated offenses of non-bail-eligible crimes has been a challenging one for retail businesses statewide,” Steck wrote in his legislative justification. “Allowing a court, at their discretion, to set bail or other means to ensure the return of a repeat offender, is not unreasonable. Should an offender be charged with the same offense three times within a two-year period, on the third offense, non-bail-eligible crimes will become bail-eligible.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Keechant Sewell, New York City Police commissioner, released data in August 2022 showing 211 individuals logged at least three arrests for burglary through June 2022, a 142.5% increase compared with the 87 individuals arrested at least three times for burglary in the first six months of 2017. For shoplifting, 899 people had been arrested three times for that crime through June 2022, an 88.9% increase over the 476 individuals arrested three times for shoplifting through June 2017. Today, nearly 25% of those arrested for burglary go on to commit another felony within 60 days, a sharp increase compared with 2017, when 8% of accused burglars were arrested for another felony within 60 days. Analyses for the offenses of grand larceny, grand larceny auto, and petit larceny showed nearly identical increases for 2021 compared with 2017, according to the New York City officials, And, those recidivism rates for those crimes have not improved in calendar 2022.
A study released earlier this year by John Jay College’s Data Collaborative for Justice showed for the most part those released after low-level misdemeanor offenses didn’t reoffend. The study found only weak support, in general that releasing more bail-eligible people either increased or decreased recidivism. But there is one group that bucked that trend — those accused of violent felonies.
Further rollbacks to the 2019 bail reform were one holdup during state budget talks earlier this year. After nearly a month of talks, Hochul and legislative leaders agreed to give judges more leeway to impose bail and other pretrial conditions while ending the requirement that judges use the least restrictive conditions to ensure people return to court.