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GOP blasts bail reform inaction

NEW YORK — They hold the minority in both chambers of the Legislature, but Republicans across the state aren’t giving up on hounding Democrats to change the state’s bail laws after legislative leaders this week seemed reluctant to revisit it.

About a dozen state and New York City Republicans took their cries to amend the state’s cashless bail laws downstate Thursday, standing outside city hall in Manhattan. The GOP has typically rallied about the law in Albany or upstate communities. Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, has led the 20 Republicans in the Senate minority conference to tie the recent increase of violent crimes and incidents to the changes Democrats voted to limit pretrial detention of most nonviolent crimes in 2019.

“People are afraid to be here, to work here,” Ortt said. “It is happening as a direct result of the policies that have come out of Albany, the policies that have come out of New York City government ... and anti-police rhetoric.”

Homicides are below their peak of the 1990s, but increased in New York by 29% in 2020. About 77% involved a firearm. Cities across the nation — in states without bail reform changes — have seen a similar increase in armed burglaries, homicides, shootings and other violent incidents since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Recently released data from 2021 arraignments revealed about 2% of those out on bail were rearrested for a violent crime — a number of Republicans say is unacceptable.

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