In Support of the Proposed Budget and Public Safety Plan That Strengthen Bail Reforms

I write to express my strong support for Governor Hochul’s 10-point public safety plan. I firmly believe the changes proposed, which addresses several causes in the recent spike in crime, are critical to improving public safety and in saving lives for every community.

I urge the Governor and my state representatives to stand firm and adopt these proposals and address public safety as a priority. This is NOT about progressives, moderates, or conservatives. This is NOT about over-policing or over-incarceration. This is NOT about pitting one community of color against another.

A recent poll by Siena College showed that two thirds (2/3) of all New Yorkers want the no-cash bail law tightened and said that the law should be amended to consider a defendant’s prior criminal record. I am adding my voice to that poll.

This is about saving lives in all communities. This is about common sense. This is about gaining control over the proliferation of guns and violence. This is about decreasing incarceration and getting individuals the proper treatment and care they deserve. Without confidence in public safety, we will not recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic, and we will not be able to lift up the marginalized and forgotten.  

For many of us, within our own homes, we have become victims to senseless violence or are afraid to leave. Our communities and our transit system have become too dangerous and unstable. Our communities are reeling from the senseless deaths of 19-year-old Burger King worker Kristal Bayron-Nieves, MTA passenger Michelle Go, Detectives Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora, Chinatown resident Christina Yuna Lee, homeless person Abdoulaye Coulibaly and the list goes on.

I acknowledge that important criminal justice reforms were needed to reduce the senseless and needless suffering by our Black and Brown brothers and sisters, by our transgender and gender non-conforming people. However, the Governor 's thoughtful proposals are NOT substantive rollbacks to those reforms, but rather key improvements to address the rampant and on-going attacks on all communities and to close the loopholes that run counter to the reforms.

The Governor's Plan gives judges more discretion to order bail and detain criminal defendants for additional crimes based on their criminal history. This change focuses on the most serious felonies. Violent attacks involving repeat offenders will now be subject to arrest, and subject to bail.  

The Plan allows hate crimes, gun-related offenses, and crimes against subway riders and transit workers, to be subject to bail, as these are serious crimes and desk appearances are not enough. Hate crimes and gun related offences must be eligible for bail. Our public transit system needs to be made safer and transit workers, our essential workers, must be better protected.

The Plan also makes it easier to prosecute gun trafficking which is a menace to the safety of every community.  

This commonsense Plan includes expanding on mental health: 1) to provide the care and proper treatment -- instead of locking individuals up in jails, like Rikers and 2) to strengthen Kendra’s Law, so judges have more flexibility to require individuals who are struggling with mental illness to participate in mandatory treatment. Investments must be made on this front -- instead of building more jails and homeless shelter. Give people the proper care and treatment they deserve, instead of incarcerating them.  

Our grandmothers are being beaten, our daughters are assaulted, our fathers are dying. All needlessly. All preventable. Detective Rivera’s widow, Dominique Luzuriaga’s words haunts me, “The system continues to fail us. We are not safe anymore.”

Without public safety, all other investments in our schools, in our communities, and in our economy, are useless.  

Stop the bloodshed and pass these amendments.