For Immediate Release: January 9, 2017
Contacts: Fiona Druge, email@example.com | 646.755.6126
Governor Cuomo Advocates for Pretrial Reforms in His Proposed Justice Overhaul
Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a package of criminal justice reforms, including improvements to the state money bail system. These proposals aim to overhaul practices that unfairly punish the poor, like the state’s current practice of basing pretrial release decisions on an individual’s ability to pay bail rather than the risk he or she poses to public safety. The legislation Governor Cuomo proposes would allow judges to consider the danger an individual may pose to the community rather than simply flight risk and mandate the use of risk assessment tools in pretrial release decisions that data shows to be unbiased and effective for New York. These reforms—which are evidence-based and reflect national best practices—will help to better ensure higher risk individuals remain behind bars before their trial while lower risk New Yorkers can be released before their trial.
In response to the Governor’s announcement, Cherise Fanno Burdeen, chief executive officer of the Pretrial Justice Institute, issued the following statement:
“Money bail is at the root of our country’s disturbingly high levels of unnecessary pretrial incarceration. Too many people accused of nonviolent, petty crimes—including more than 45,000 people each year in New York City alone— end up in sitting in jail for days, months, or even years waiting for their trials only because they can’t afford bail. Needlessly locking up these individuals is simply bad policy that derails lives, wastes countless taxpayer dollars, and makes us less safe. Research shows even a few days jail waiting while a family scrapes together bail money makes otherwise low-risk people more likely to commit a crime in the future.
“We want to see New York make serious changes to the state’s pretrial policies to ensure their justice system is more safe, fair, and effective – and it’s gratifying to see Governor Cuomo step up to push for much-needed improvements.”
Fanno Burdeen is available for interviews upon request. Her analysis on criminal justice policy has been featured in The New York Times, The New Yorker , The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and USA Today among many other outlets.
Facts about money bail and pretrial detention in America:
- Most people in American jails—more than 6 in 10—have not yet been to trial; the vast majority are there because they can’t afford cash bail.
- More than 80% of criminal defendants qualify for indigent defense based on poverty.
- Even three days in jail can result in loss of wages, jobs, housing, and family connections, leaving some defendants 40% more likely to commit future crime.
- Nearly half of high-risk defendants exploit the money bail system and use bail bondsmen to get out.
- The tools exists to replace the outdated cash bail system with a risk-based system that is safe, fair, and effective, and many jurisdictions have demonstrated it is possible.
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The Pretrial Justice Institute is a national organization working to advance safe, fair, and effective pretrial justice that honors and protects all people. To learn more about PJI or their 3DaysCount campaign that aims to support commonsense solutions to longstanding pretrial justice challenges in 20 states, visit www.pretrial.org.
To schedule an interview or learn more about The Pretrial Justice Institute, contact Fiona Druge, Fiona.Druge@berlinrosen.com, (646) 755-6126.