ALBANY - The drumbeat of stories about arrested people being released without cash bail and committing more crimes has taken its toll on New Yorkers' support of the criminal-justice reform approved last year.
A Siena College poll Monday showed voters' support for the change plummeted since last April, when the reforms were approved. The law took effect Jan. 1.
In April 2019, 55% of voters thought ending cash bail for most misdemeanor and non-violent was "good for New York" compared to 38% who thought it was bad.
This month, the opinion has flipped: 59% said ending cash bail in most cases was bad policy compared to 33% who said it was a positive change.
“Support for the new bail law — which took effect in January after passage as part of the budget last year — continues to plummet," said Siena poll spokesman Steve Greenberg.
"In April, New Yorkers thought the new law would be good for the state by 17 points."
Even compared to last month, the public's view has shifted more negatively toward the law as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers debate whether to make changes this year.
Last month, voters said the new law is bad for the state by a margin of 12 percentage points. Monday's poll showed the margin bulged to 26 percentage points.
The unpopularity of the law comes as state leaders debate whether they should reconsider it, particularly restoring some judicial discretion over whether bail should be set in certain cases.
Cuomo said he is open to considering changes, but it can't be based "hyperbole."
Law enforcement officials and Republicans have been railing against the law, saying it is making communities less safe.
Advocates said the law is needed because bail shouldn't be used as punishment for those who can't afford to pay their way out of prison as they await the adjudication of their cases.
"This was a major reform and a much needed reform to get money out of the justice equation," Cuomo said Thursday on WAMC, a public radio station in Albany.
"But now you have to separate the politics and the personal agendas and the misinformation from the actual facts. That’s what we’re talking through now."
It is uncertain whether lawmakers will agree to changes to the law as part of the state budget for the fiscal year that starts April 1.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, and many of his colleagues are resistance to changes, despite proposals by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, to revisit the law.
"As I have constantly said I am listening and will analyze data as it comes in, not cherry picked and sensationalized stories," Heastie wrote Feb. 19 on Twitter.
"I have not told the Governor or anyone else that I am open to changes with the bail law at this point. We are only in week 8."