Pillars of Bail Reform Survived New York’s Final Budget, but Our Leaders Are Failing New Yorkers

Despite the data and evidence, this year scare tactics again drove the budget negotiation process, instead of honest conversations about real solutions to prevent crime and deliver safety.

May 4, 2023

Contact: Trip Eggert | teggert@vera.org | (212) 376-3157, ext. 1033

In response to the final New York State budget for Fiscal Year 2024, Jullian Harris-Calvin, director of the Vera Institute of Justice’s Greater Justice New York program, issued the following statement:

“The governor, legislature, and criminal justice experts and researchers all agree that New York’s 2019 bail reform legislation is not responsible for any increases in crime. Yet, despite the data and evidence, this year scare tactics again drove the budget negotiation process instead of honest conversations about real solutions to prevent crime and deliver safety.

“While this third round of unnecessary rollbacks left in place the pillars of pretrial justice in New York—the right to a speedy trial, to see the evidence in a case, and to ensure that wealth is not the determining factor in who is jailed before trial—our elected leaders must stop chipping away at our hard-fought reforms. By prioritizing politics over policy, they have failed the people of New York, who have real concerns about their safety and are owed honest conversations. This must be the last time New York rolls back its landmark bail reforms. Legislation must be driven by solutions, not scare tactics.

“Now it is time for Governor Hochul and the legislature to rise to their duty as public servants by evaluating and passing sound policy solutions to keep New Yorkers safe and stable. People are still dying in our jails; predominantly Black people, other people of color, and poor people. While the budget includes some significant investments to bolster public safety—doubling funding for alternatives to incarceration to $31.4 million and tripling funding for reentry services to $11.5 million—the needs of our state are still greater. The legislature ensured that the final 2024 budget also includes additional funding for criminal defense, mental health care, and community responses to crime and violence. But the agreement fails to deliver adequate safety investments in services well-proven to provide stability and security.

“We strongly recommend that New York invest at least $72 million in establishing a statewide pretrial services system provided by independent, nonprofit providers in counties beyond New York City. These community-based services support and stabilize New Yorkers before trial, while building trust and connecting people to tools enabling their success more effectively than programs run by law enforcement agencies, such as probation departments.

“New York must also increase its commitments to other services proven to keep the people of this state safe: affordable and supportive housing, pretrial and reentry services, mental health care and substance use treatment, alternatives to incarceration, community violence intervention programs, and public health approaches to community needs. These investments will prevent crime and strengthen our communities where incarceration, punishment, and bail rollbacks cannot.


About the Vera Institute of Justice: The Vera Institute of Justice is powered by hundreds of advocates, researchers, and policy experts working to transform the criminal legal and immigration systems until they’re fair for all. Founded in 1961 to advocate for alternatives to money bail in New York City, Vera is now a national organization that partners with impacted communities and government leaders for change. We develop just, antiracist solutions so that money doesn’t determine freedom; fewer people are in jails, prisons, and immigration detention; and everyone is treated with dignity. Vera’s headquarters is in Brooklyn, New York, with offices in Washington, DC, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. For more information, visit vera.org.

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