New Yorkers have turned against bail reform.
Support for the new law eliminating cash bail for most misdemeanor and some “non-violent” felony crimes has plummeted, and now 49 percent of New York State voters say the new policy is “bad” for New York compared to 37 percent who say it’s “good,” a new poll released Tuesday reveals.
That’s a stark turnaround from last April, when 55 percent of residents backed the law while only 38 percent were opposed, the Siena College survey found.
Opposition to the law has spiked amid stories that career criminals have been let loose to strike again because of the ban on cash bail.
“Certainly, all the attention this new law has gotten across the state has had an impact with voters and it is clear that a sizeable number of New Yorkers, who were optimistic that the new bail law would be good for the state, now believe the law is bad for New York,” Siena pollster Steven Greenberg said.
Support dropped and opposition grew across the board, particularly among older voters, independents and suburbanites.
Last April, 53 percent of voters aged 55 and over endorsed bail reform. Now 57 percent of older voters say it’s bad for New York – a swing of more than 20 percentage points.
Last year, 60 percent of independents or unaffiliated voters backed eliminating cash bail. But now only 29 percent back the law while 56 percent are opposed – a swing of more than 30 percentage points.
A majority of Democrats still support the law, but that support has lessened.
Now 53 percent of Dems like bail reform, down from 64 percent last year.
GOP voter support dropped from 34 percent to 15 percent.
There is a particular backlash against ending cash bail in the New York City suburbs, with 64 percent objecting to it compared to 23 percent who support the law. A year ago, suburbanites backed bail reform 50 percent to 41 percent opposed.
A majority of upstaters now oppose the law. Last year, a slim majority – 51 percent—supported it.
New York City residents back bail reform 50 percent to 36 percent, the poll found.
But even in the more liberal Big Apple support is way down from last April, when residents supported bail reform by a 2 to 1 margin.
There’s a big racial divide with 58 percent of white voters now saying the ban on bail is bad. Last year, a slim majority — 52 percent of white respondents — approved of the law.
More black voters back the ban on bail, with 48 percent in support and only 27 percent opposed, while 49 percent of Latinos support it, compared to 30 percent opposed.
Still, support among minorities fell significantly from last year, when blacks and Latinos backed bail reform by two-to-one margins.
“While every demographic group moved more negative since April, joining independents and downstate suburbanites with the largest movement from ‘good’ to ‘bad’ was voters 55 and older,” Greenberg of Siena said.
The Siena poll surveyed 814 voters from Jan. 11-16 has a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points.
Advocates for reform have said the old bail system was discriminatory because meant poor people who could not afford bail languished in jail while the rich could easily buy their freedom — with many pointing to the case of Kalief Browder, who killed himself after spending three years on Rikers on $3,000 bail over a stolen backpack.
But a recent spate of hate crimes against New York’s Jewish community – which included a repeat offender who attacked again after being sprung without bail – has ignited opposition to bail reform as revolving door justice.
Bail reform was approved of part of last year’s state budget by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Democratic-run Legislature. Some lawmakers are now demanding changes to the law such as giving judges more discretion to detain a defendant deemed dangerous to the public.
But legislative leaders don’t want to undo the policy.