NYC Police Commissioner admits bail reform laws need to change

In a recent interview, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell acknowledged that the state’s bail reform law, which has let dangerous offenders back on the streets, “absolutely” needs to be changed. Following the legislation that removed cash bail for most misdemeanors and non-violent crimes, Sewell joined a litany of politicians who have campaigned for more restricted bail regulations.

During an interview on “The Cats Roundtable,” with host John Catsimatidis, Sewell stated, “The criminal justice reform law that took effect in 2020, I think, that is definitely part of the thinking that needs to change. We can keep most of the important elements of the reform, but there are absolutely some things that need to be adjusted.” She also spoke out against the decriminalization of so-called quality-of-life offenses including turnstile jumping, marijuana use, and drinking in public, saying, “There are entire categories of serious crimes that we can no longer make an arrest for. We can only issue a summons.” Adding that “We have used discretion in the past. Now, we don’t even have that.”

Sewell explained, “There are entire categories of crime where we can make an arrest, but … the judges are legally prohibited from ever setting bail — even if the same burglar or car thief commits the same crime every day and ends up in front of the same judge. They used to have that discretion, and in many cases we don’t have that anymore.”

Mayor Eric Adams has echoed Sewell’s concerns, asking Albany lawmakers to amend the reform bill they approved in 2019 and consider a defendant’s “dangerousness” when choosing whether to detain them on bond or release them. However, Democratic lawmakers in both the state Assembly and Senate have indicated that they would not act on Adams’ request, consistently rejecting the mayor’s demands. Governor Kathy Hochul also rejected proposals in January to grant courts the authority to hold pre-trial detainees in jail if they are deemed dangerous.

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