New Yorkers United for Justice Reacts to Bail Reform Changes in the New York State Executive Budget
April 02, 2020

April 2, 2020
Contact:Reynolds Graves


(New York, NY) – Today, as budget language was made available, New Yorkers United for Justice, a diverse statewide coalition comprised of criminal justice reform, public safety and civil rights advocates, offered a reaction to long-expected changes to pretrial reforms passed in last year’s budget. The refinements that the legislature is enacting today emerged from a thoughtful, deliberate process among the Governor, Senate Majority Leader and Assembly Speaker. Each has long made clear their commitment to safety and fairness through common- sense reforms to New York’s deeply flawed criminal justice system. In addition to the leaders, long-time champions of reform in the Senate and Assembly played a critical role in preventing the gutting of our state’s historic reforms. 

In 2019, the governor and the legislature passed critical, common-sense reforms to the pretrial portion of the state’s criminal justice system, including eliminating cash bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies and lifting New York’s so-called blindfold law, which had led to numerous wrongful-conviction cases and negatively impacted public safety. Since then, numerous bad-faith actors have engaged in a deliberate misinformation campaign, deploying fear-mongering tactics to scare New Yorkers and fully repeal long-overdue reforms. 

Given today’s measured result, it’s clear that their campaign of lies and fear failed, and advocates and thoughtful legislators succeeded in preserving the heart of meaningful bail and discovery reforms. 

NYUJ’s full analysis of changes to the state’s bail and discovery laws is available HERE

Please credit the following statement to Khalil A. Cumberbatch, Chief Strategist of New Yorkers United for Justice and a formerly incarcerated New Yorker: 

“New Yorkers United for Justice is a diverse coalition, and our members have a range of perspectives on the details of this revised legislation. We continue to support an iterative legislative process that strengthens laws over time. The adjustments made to pretrial reforms 

are reflective of that process. We commend Governor Cuomo, Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie for devoting the time and consideration that millions of impacted New Yorkers deserve during a challenging and chaotic period in our state’s history. 

“We view these changes to the pretrial reform laws as a signal that the legislative portion of pretrial reforms has drawn to a close. Looking ahead, we will continue our tireless pursuit of oversight and accountability — and the wide, public availability of statewide data — to ensure that the goals of the laws, to make the pretrial process fair, equal, and free from bias based on race and poverty, are achieved and sustained. We will continue to offer our partnership to all stakeholders involved, including the governor and the legislature to affect that, and to help demonstrate that fairness under the law and the safety of our communities go together. 

“We know that much work remains to dramatically reform New York’s criminal justice system, from all sides and across all dimensions, and work can now continue, especially with respect to reforming New York’s draconian system of parole. In the meantime, we continue to urge law enforcement officials to ensure that no one is unnecessarily detained or incarcerated during the COVID-19 crisis for any reason, including and especially during an individual’s pretrial period.” 

# # # 

About New Yorker United for Justice (NYUJ): New Yorkers United for Justice is a statewide coalition comprised of local and national non- profit organizations committed to supporting a movement that will bring much-needed criminal justice reform to New York State and ensure that policies promote safety and fairness. NYUJ aims for legislative urgency to fix a broken criminal justice system that punishes the poor and communities of color, tears families apart, and makes New Yorkers less safe. NYUJ believes that a system that ensures equal access to justice for anyone accused in New York State, regardless of age, race, ethnicity or social economic status, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or religion, must be the standard.