In a thoughtful letter addressing my recent column about New York’s bail reform law [“Bail Reform: A True Story,” Vistas, Opinion, March 5], Jeffrey Close raised factual points and claimed that I was misleading [“Some Clear Flaws,” Letters, March 12]. Mr. Close’s characterization warrants a reply.
My statement about the drop in crime and the lack of change in recidivism rates among bail reform jurisdictions didn’t purport to go beyond misdemeanors and is backed up by the research.
Mr. Close’s more fundamental point, if I understand it correctly, is aimed at the debate about judicial discretion. It’s important to note that under the old New York law, such discretion was expressly limited to imposing cash bail based on the defendant’s likelihood to return for trial. A judge could not consider public safety.
Therefore, contrary to Mr. Close’s assertion, the new law can’t be said to curtail such discretion — because such discretion did not exist under the old law.
As to Mr. Close’s second point, regarding the lack of evidence of the negative impact of bail reform, the February numbers he cites had not been released as of the time I wrote the piece. Even if they had been, they constitute one data point against many, so the fundamental point that we need some more time to understand the reform’s impact still stands.
Mr. Sandoval writes the “Vistas” column for the Express News Group — Ed.
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