Last Wednesday, 150 committed, justice-loving individuals gathered at Congregation Beth Elohim to learn about New York’s broken bail system with Racial Justice BK and CBE’s Dismantling Racism Team. It was a moving event. We heard from people directly impacted by the bail system and their allies about the harm caused when someone is forced to stay behind bars simply because they can’t afford to buy their freedom. And we were reminded that this injustice disproportionately affects people of color in our city and our state.

Our bail laws are one of the most brutal and blatant forms of systemic racism in our justice system. They prey upon those who lack financial reserves and disproportionately effect people of color. There is now a bill that is pending in the state legislature that could change all of this and it must pass this session. If you were able to join us last night, thank you!

Whether or not you were there, we need you to…TAKE ACTION TODAY TO REFORM NEW YORK’S BAIL LAWS AND END MONEY BAIL! It could not be easier- follow our script for three calls. Each one of you can make a difference!

A bill pending in the state legislature–the Gianaris/O’Donnell Bail Reform Bill–would enact meaningful reforms to New York’s bail system. Passage of this bill will help stop race-based and wealth-based jailing. 

MAKE 3 PHONE CALLS TODAY
Call Governor Cuomo at 518-474-8390
Call your NY State Senator (click here to find your senator here)
Call your NY State Assembly Member (click here to find your assembly member here)
Ask them to support and fight for the Gianaris/O’Donnell Bail Reform Bill.

Our call script and fact sheet give you all the information you need to take this important action today. (Included below, as well.)
After you make your three phone calls, ask five people to do the same!

POVERTY IS NOT, AND SHOULD NOT, BE A CRIME.
Thank you for helping to ensure that meaningful bail reform becomes state law this year.

 

Bail is Broken: End Cash Bail Action Steps!

Call Governor Andrew Cuomo at 518-474-8390 and tell him:
“I am a New York voter. [You can include other information like the name of your faith community or other organization.] I ask the Governor to support the O’Donnell/Gianaris bail reform bill (A.2726/S.2101) because it:

  • Ends money bail
  • Protects the presumption of innocence
  • Ensures due process of law for everyone no matter the charges they face
  • Ends race and wealth-based jailing
  • Decarcerates our jails

These principles must be upheld in any bail reform bill.”

Check on Your State Legislators:

  1. Click to find your State Senator and Assemblymember.
  2. Click here to check if they are already co-sponsoring bail legislation.

Call your State Senator and tell them:
“Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent from [your neighborhood]. [You can include other information like the name of your faith community or other organization.]

  • If your State Senator is a cosponsor: “I want to thank the Senator for cosponsoring S.2101 to end cash bail and ask that they fight for the bill until it becomes law.”
  • If your State Senator is NOT a cosponsor: “Please ask the Senator to support the Gianaris bail reform bill (S.2101) because it:
  • Ends money bail
  • Protects the presumption of innocence
  • Ensures due process of law for everyone no matter the charges they face  
  • Ends race and wealth-based jailing
  • Decarcerates our jails

Will the Senator co-sponsor S.2101 to end money bail?”

Call your Assembly Member and tell them:
“Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent from [your neighborhood]. [You can include other information like the name of your faith community or other organization.]

  • If your Assemblymember is already a cosponsor: “I want to thank the Assemblymember for cosponsoring A.2726 to end cash bail and ask that they fight for the bill until it becomes law.”
  • If your Assemblymember is NOT a cosponsor: “Please ask the Assemblymember to support the O’Donnell bail reform bill (A.2726) because it upholds the following principles:
  • Eliminates money bail
  • Protects the presumption of innocence
  • Reduces the number of people in jail
  • Addresses racial disparities in pretrial detention

Will the Assemblymember co-sponsor A.2726 to end money bail?”

 

Additional Facts on Cash Bail
Why eliminate cash bail?

  • On any given day last year in New York State, more than 15,000 people sat in jail pretrial, most simply because they could not afford bail.
  • New York’s bail system:
    • violates our Constitutional right to be treated as innocent unless proven guilty;
    • disproportionately criminalizes people experiencing poverty and people of color;
    • coerces plea deals because people are desperate to get out of jail, even if they are innocent or have been overcharged; and
    • subjects people to loss of their jobs, homes, and custody of children, disrupts education and makes immigrant New Yorkers vulnerable to deportation.
  • New York City spends almost $1 billion per year incarcerating people pretrial who cannot afford bail.

Why support the Gianaris/O’Donnell bail reform bill (S.2101/A.2726)?

  • Eliminates cash bail.
  • Protects the presumption of innocence.
    • Ensures pretrial detention decisions are subject to due process.
      Where pretrial detention might apply – such as for alleged witness intimidation and felonies where the defendant is accused of trying to seriously injure someone – the defendant would be entitled to a robust hearing before they could be locked up.
  • Stops race and wealth-based jailing.
  • Advances the goal of decarceration.
    • The Gianaris/O’Donnell bill could reduce the New York City jail population enough to allow Rikers to be closed.
    • Governor Cuomo’s bail proposal also eliminates cash bail and mandates pretrial hearings, but allows pretrial detention with no chance of release for many more people. His legislation might not change the level of pretrial incarceration at all.