Bail reform was all the rage at the start of 2020. District attorneys and other public officials made a big deal about how the current system was unjust and inhumane because it kept people locked up who were supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.
I’m actually sympathetic to that argument. However, I’ve also seen what happens when you turn around and just turn your cell doors into revolving doors and it isn’t pretty.
In New York, which is one of the more progressive states in the nation, it seems that most voters aren’t big fans of the way things shook out. They want tougher bail laws.
The vast majority of those polled, or 91 percent, said crime was a very serious or somewhat serious problem, according to the Siena College survey.
Of that number, 60 percent said crime is a “very serious” problem while another 31 percent said it’s a “somewhat serious” problem.
The worries about crime cut across all regions and racial groups.
Two-thirds of Blacks and Hispanics and 53 percent of whites also said they were very or at least somewhat worried about being the victim of a crime.
“New Yorkers say crime is a serious problem across the state. More than half of every demographic group say it is a very serious problem and at least 84% of every demographic say it is at least a somewhat serious problem,” Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said.
Meanwhile, two-thirds of voters agree with New York City Mayor Eric Adams that the controversial bail law needs to be overhauled by giving judges the discretion to detain “dangerous” recidivist felons pending trial for a lesser offense.
Under the current bail law, these defendants are automatically released pending trial if they’re charged with a non-violent felony or misdemeanor crime that exempts them from cash bail consideration or detention.
Of course, with the midterms coming up, this kind of thing is likely to play a significant role in various campaigns. Democrats have been the champions of such policies, policies we now see doing nothing but benefitting criminals at the expense of good, decent, law-abiding people.
Republicans argued from the start this was a bad idea and that will likely benefit them in many campaigns later this year.
Yet let’s also remember that 65 percent of New Yorkers want this. I suspect you’d find a similarly surprising number of Californians on board with this as well. Same with Massachusetts and New Jersey.
That’s because while many people may support welfare programs, gun control, and anything else you care to associate with progressive causes, those tend to be vague “over there” kinds of issues. Most of them aren’t really going to directly change much for them, so it’s easy to support them and feel like a good person for doing so.
It’s a positional good.
Yet that flies out the window when you’re looking at something that may directly and literally hurt you and yours.
As violent crime continues to surge–a surge that began not all that long after bail reform became such a cause to be championed–folks don’t think it’s such a good idea anymore.
The question is whether lawmakers will listen.