Slate: Cuomo’s Bail Reform Reversal Risks Explosive Coronavirus Spread in Jails

“The governor’s proposal also permits pretrial detention for a much wider range of offenses and allows judges to make guesses about the future “dangerousness” of a defendant (the likelihood that they will commit a new violent crime) based on the “weight of the evidence,” which flouts the presumption of innocence before a case goes to trial. Additionally, New York law has never permitted judges to consider “dangerousness” when setting bail, so it’s possible that including a “dangerousness standard” in New York law would lead to unprecedented levels of pretrial incarceration.

Finally, the proposal seemingly creates a new detention eligibility category for “persistent offenders,” or people who commit additional felony or Class A misdemeanor offenses while awaiting trial. “Remanding people for misdemeanors is something that has never been done in New York. The proposal would put vast numbers of people charged with low-level misdemeanors at risk of indefinite pretrial detention with no possibility of release,” said Scott Levy, chief policy counsel for the Bronx Defenders. The “persistent offender” category specifically includes crimes involving “harm to property.” For example, someone accused of two shoplifting offenses could be remanded under the proposed rollbacks.”

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