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The Truth About Bail Reform

In 2019, the state passed laws that improved New York's bail, speedy trial and discovery laws in ways that made our state fairer and helped reduce mass incarceration.

In this episode we talk about the regressive criminal legal system rollbacks that were passed in April by state lawmakers. In 2019, the state passed laws that improved New York’s bail, speedy trial and discovery laws in ways that made our state fairer and helped reduce mass incarceration.

But ever since then, these laws have been the target of a relentless, fear-driven backlash that continues to this day. We discuss these reforms, how they were rolled back in April and where we go from here.


[00:00:00] Simon: Welcome to Rights This Way, a podcast from the New York Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of New York State. I’m Simon McCormack, senior staff writer at the NYCLU, and your host for this podcast, which is focused on the civil rights and liberties issues that impact New Yorkers most.

[00:00:24] Today we’re gonna talk about the regressive criminal legal system rollbacks that were passed in April by state lawmakers. In 2019 the state passed laws that improved New York’s bail, speedy trial, and discovery laws in ways that made our state fairer and helped reduce mass incarceration. But ever since then, these laws have been the target of a relentless fear-driven backlash that continues to this day.

[00:00:50] We’re going to discuss these reforms, how they were ruled back in April, and where we go from here. Um, and joining me to do just that is NYCLU Policy Council Jared Trujillo and NYCLU Senior Organizer Isabelle Leyva. Jared, Isabelle, thank you so much for coming on Rights This Way.

[00:01:08] Isabelle: Thank you for having us.

[00:01:10] Simon: I wanna start by first having Jared layout what the reforms in 2019 did and why they were important.

[00:01:18] Jared: Right. So the biggest thing that bail, uh, reform did is – when we talk about, you know, ending wealth-based detention, it, it’s, of course a lot more nuanced than that, and so the biggest thing that bail reform did is it prevented judges from setting money bail in most instances where people were charged with either misdemeanors or quote unquote nonviolent felonies.

[00:01:38] So, you know, it makes a, a big difference in New York City. Um, and it made certainly a big difference in upstate New York where we’re a lot more apt to set bail for misdemeanors in particular. This really drove down the census numbers in so many jails and prisons. You know, for a long time people have talked about closing Rikers.

[00:01:56] That campaign really gained a lot of steam, but without the changes in how, uh, judges were setting bail and a lot of those changes, which were really brought about by bail reform itself, but then also really around a lot of the discussion and a lot of the, the paradigm shift and the thinking shift that happened around the bail reform campaign, that would not be possible.

[00:02:17] I mean, frankly, with the rollbacks to bail reform and the higher census numbers that we’re seeing at Rikers today in a way that lowers the numbers to build the four borough based jails, which is a whole nother issue, um, that is, is it really wouldn’t even possible with the numbers that we have today. So bail reform was incredibly important as far as limiting, uh, wealth-based detention and discovery reform was incredibly important and ensuring that people actually knew what evidence was before them before, uh, they were effectively pushed into taking pleas.

[00:02:49] These were, again, revolutionary for New York, but it’s really important to note that even though we think of New York as this traditionally blue state, that is not the way that New York has treated people involved in the criminal or juvenile legal system. So when Raise the Age passed in 2017, New York was one of only two states – the only state besides North Carolina – that treated all 16- and 17-year-olds as adults, by statute. You know, New York has just been incredibly regressive. So again, Raise the Age, while it was a really important and progressive change for New York, in reality, it just got New York to parity with other states, uh, in the country. Then bail reform and discovery reform, which passed in 2019 – these were really just decades-long fights that pushed on New York to recognize that we have an epidemic of over-incarceration. We certainly have an epidemic of pretrial incarceration. It’s fueled incredibly high census counts at Rikers Island, which is one of the most, if not the most dangerous jail in the country.

[00:03:54] Um, and what these reforms really did was they just provided a little bit of humanity to the system. They gave the system, I, I don’t wanna say an ounce of process, because these reforms were truly transformative for New York, but they gave New York just a lot more process as far as preventing, uh, wealth-based detention, as far as preventing people from rotting in a cell, preventing – important to note – legally innocent people from rotting in a cell, simply because they couldn’t afford to pay for their freedom from jail pending trial.

[00:04:24] Isabelle: Yeah, and I’ll just note that, um, I know Simon mentioned in the intro that there has been kind of this coordinated attack on bail reform and a lot of fear mongering around it. And like Jared said, this is about legally innocent folks, um, being sent to jail simply because they’re too poor to afford bail.

[00:04:41] That’s what it is. That is the core of this entire fight. Um, and what bail reform did in 2019 was the floor, not the ceiling, right? This was a baseline of providing people the opportunity to be home in their communities when they’re still legally innocent of a crime that they’re accused of. Um, so when we talk about all of these reforms, it’s important to ground ourselves that, um, this was us coming up to par when our laws and our criminal legal system in New York was overly punitive, specifically of Black and Brown folks and of poor Black and Brown folks.

[00:05:14] So we’re really – as radical as it was for New York – it was only radical because we were so regressive in our policies, um, and it was just one step in the right direction.

[00:05:24] Jared: So bail again, and as, as Isabelle noted, is just, it’s money that someone has to pay in order to pay for their freedom from incarceration pending their next court date. Whether bail determination is met or not does not end the case. You can have no bail set and potentially still go to jail for a very long time.

[00:05:44] Bail is usually set at the very first hearing, it’s set at, called arraignments. Um, it is set very early on in the case. And again, the purpose of bail in New York has always been to assure someone returns to court. Now, even before bail reform, about 96% of people were returning to court because again, the, the bail determination, that arraignment period, it is not determinative as to whether, whether the case ends, you know, the, the life of the case typically has a very long time, um, even after that, that initial determination. And so by saying that people accused of misdemeanors, low-level felonies are able to be in their communities without having to pay with money that they oftentimes can’t afford – I mean, the amount of people that have rotted in jail or even died, uh, for $500 bail or for $1,000 dollar bail is just astronomical – it really ensured that people could stay in their communities. There were also different provisions of the bail law that called for potential monitoring that really noted supervised release – which certainly existed before bail reform – but supervised release are just programs to ensure that people are returning to court.

[00:06:52] Uh, bail reform just again, really looked holistically at humans and recognized that people and their families are not better when they’re simply sitting in a jail cell pending – legally innocent people – pending their next court date.

[00:07:04] Isabelle: And I’ll just note that I know we, we’ll keep saying this throughout this conversation, but bail reform is a racial justice issue. Um, we know that any issue within the system, the, the carceral system and the system of mass incarceration disproportionately affects Black and Brown people. But we know that Black people in New York prior to bail reform were 6.4 times more likely than white people to be held on bail.

[00:07:28] So, these laws disproportionately impact communities that are Black and Brown, immigrant communities, um, and this, all of this is about racial justice, and it’s about leveling the playing field because we know that any kind of punitive measure in our criminal legal system will inevitably, disproportionately affect marginalized communities.

[00:07:48] Jared: Isabelle is 1000% right. Um, and on top of it, you know, on top of really the brunt of our criminal legal system, uh, being carried by Black and Brown folks, when you start looking at different levels of, of intersectional, marginalized identities, the treatment just gets even worse. So we know that 47% of Black trans women are incarcerated at some point in their lives.

[00:08:10] I spoke before about how $500 bail has been used to really cage someone who’s legally innocent and has even led to deaths. There I was talking about Layleen Polanco Xtravaganza, a Black trans woman, uh, who was a sex worker – who initially had warrants set on her because she didn’t complete sex work related services – died at 27-years-old alone in a cell because she could not afford $500 bail. This means, you know, Black and Brown disabled people who are disproportionately, uh, likely to be part of the criminal legal system. We’re talking about people with mental health issues. We’re talking about, uh, really, as Isabelle noted, the most marginalized people. We’re talking about a lot of survivors of violence themselves.

[00:08:52] You know, there is a really big epidemic of the overcriminalization of survivors of violence. You know, about 86% of incarcerated women in particular, and non-binary folks, are survivors of violence themselves. So it’s, you know, we’re really talking about a huge issue and I, I’ll just note, I’ll end my rant here on this, but when someone is even in jail for two or three days, or even 24 hours, frankly, that can completely destroy their lives. That could mean that you lose your access to your job, which means that you lose access to housing. It could mean you lose access to childcare, it can have immigration consequences. It could really impact every level of someone’s life.

[00:09:34] So that’s why, you know, eliminating bail for some classes of people in some instances, that’s why expanding the use of the mandatary use of desk appearance tickets, which is also an important thing that the bail law did, it’s just been life changing for so many people that would be incarcerated themselves, but also their entire families.

[00:09:51] We know that, like, one of the things that drives incarceration for future generations – if a parent was incarcerated, or frankly if a kid ends up in foster care, and a kid is much more likely to end up in foster care if a parent is arrested or is incarcerated for sure, but even arrested. And so we are really talking about, as Isabelle noted, it is a racial justice issue that impacts people that have multiple layers of intersectionality – of intersectional, marginalized identities.

[00:10:18] Isabelle: And it impacts communities. It goes beyond families when, when pillars of communities are incarcerated, when the children of pillars of communities are incarcerated, it doesn’t just affect the immediate people that know and love them or the person themselves. It affects an entire community. And when communities are over-policed, leading to incarceration pre-trial, the destabilization spreads throughout that community, and it just perpetuates a cycle of violence and incarceration.

[00:10:44] Simon: With that as the context – which I think is critical, and I think laying out all the important things, uh, that those reforms did though, as, as you said, Isabelle, it’s a floor, not a ceiling – I think that’s critical to understanding and dissecting the, the backlash to these laws. So I’d love to, to get into that.

[00:11:03] Isabelle: Yeah, I think the backlash to bail reform, um, has kind of been seen across the board. I mean, we’re seeing it now with abortion rights, but we’ve been seeing it with racial justice related, um, progress in this country for a very long time, and it has increased recently. Um, we’re seeing nationally this trend of kind of regressing to overreliance on policing and incarceration, and we’re seeing it in New York.

[00:11:27] There is a ton of fear mongering in the media, um, about spikes in crime and public safety, and unfortunately opposition electeds and police unions themselves have used bail reform as the scapegoat when we know that factually bail reform has nothing to do with any increases in crime across the board.

[00:11:46] Um, one of the biggest things that has been kind of used as a talking point is that bail reform has led to a spike in crime, and specifically crimes around gun violence. And we know that that’s not true. Um, rises in shootings and homicides, it’s a national trend. We know that crime comes from lack of resources and from instability in communities.

[00:12:04] We just got out of a pandemic and we’re not even out of it yet. We’re still in the midst of a pandemic where people are facing evictions, people are economically destabilized, and all of that is what factors into any kind of spike in crime. And to be clear, those spikes in crime have often been manufactured, blown up, the data has been kind of distorted to make these spikes in crime seem much more alarming than they are in terms of national trends, and even trends in New York State. And we know that bail reform did not impact those. Of those released at arraignment, under the bail reform law, only 1% were rearrested on firearm charges.

[00:12:39] And outside of New York City, that number drops to 0.5[%]. So the numbers are very clear that bail reform had nothing to do with any of the things that, um, opposition and folks that want to be regressive in terms of criminal legal policies are blaming it for.

[00:12:54] Jared: Right, and, and the problem with all of, as Isabelle noted, the fear mongering and everything else, and ultimately the rollbacks is that when we are focusing on just bail and blaming it for all of society’s ills, then we’re ignoring, like, what the actual problems are, and we’re missing out on the opportunity to pursue actual solutions to address those underlying problems.

[00:13:20] The fear mongering on bail reform started right after the law was passed, but before the law was even implemented. So when bail reform wasn’t even the law, we saw a lot of law enforcement unions, we saw other law enforcement entities that were already complaining and saying that bail reform was really to blame for just about everything.

[00:13:39] I mean, someone sneezes in Mississippi and it must be the fault of New York bail reform, um, was just the level of discourse that we were at at one point. And as Isabelle noted too, you know, this is unfortunate, but it’s also not really surprising. Because we know for every single civil rights advancement in the US in history, there’s also been pushback.

[00:14:00] So if we look at civil rights advancements of the 1960s, that led to the Rockefeller Drug Laws of the 1970s and the other really regressive sentencing reforms. We saw Black and Brown advancements in the 80’s and 90’s that led to a lot of the “tough on crime” era sentencing and, and truth and sentencing laws and other things that really just divested from communities and made them less stable while increasing rates of incarceration and really increasing true family pain. And it’s not just Black and Brown rights either. What we’re seeing in this country right now as far as the pushback on queer and trans folks, a lot of that’s because of advancements that queer and trans folks have made.

[00:14:37] We see it with the women’s rights movement. We certainly, to the extent that this country actually has done real progressive work on, on helping indigenous communities, we’ve also seen the pushback there. And so it’s, you know, it’s not surprising, but it is unfortunate and it’s really why we need people to be vigilant.

[00:14:54] Because even though there were rollbacks to bail reform, uh, there was a small rollback to discovery reform, a small rollback to Raise the Age, even though those happened, the, the fight’s not over. We, we still fully expect law enforcement and, and law enforcement unions to continue to push back for further rollbacks and not just on these issues.

[00:15:14] Um, New York is a national leader for our work around solitary confinement and limiting that under the HALT Act, that is already under attack. Any advancement leads to backlash, and we really just need people to be vigilant, uh, to educate their community members. And really to break through the noise of the police unions, I mean, the NYPD Police Union has a 3.2 million dollar press budget. Um, and to just really, um, ensure that people know why these reforms are important, what they did, and why some of the myths out there are just that – fairy tales and myths.

[00:15:49] Isabelle: And I would say that I think part of the reason why, um, the misinformation, the fear mongering has been so effective is because I think everyone wants to feel safe in their communities. That is a natural human desire. We wanna feel safe, we wanna feel protected. Um, and part of the work to prepare people, to educate folks and to educate themselves on these issues is to really start examining what public safety means.

[00:16:12] To me, safety means giving people community supports, maintaining connections with family members and their community, giving people employment and housing, and access to community services to prevent cycles of harm. All of those are ways to keep us safe. And all of those are things that the bail reform law did – um, and to some extent will still do. Even though we saw these rollbacks, it doesn’t mean that this bill is completely ineffective and that nothing has changed, but it does mean that we need to be able to hold the line and to actually be able to examine what public safety means to us. Because if we don’t do that work, we are always going to be vulnerable to these attacks because they will play on our fears, fears of being unsafe and fears of being unprotected.

[00:16:54] So to do that work, we really need to do our own reflection individually and as a community to figure out what that actually means to us and what it looks like in practice.

[00:17:03] Simon: Yeah, and I think one of the more frustrating things about the success of the, of the backlash was that folks like, uh, you two were – not you specifically, but people in in favor of these reforms were – painted as, you know, we, they don’t wanna do anything about any increases in crime or, and that just wasn’t true.

[00:17:23] But that, that was sort of how I, I, I felt it was being painted. And so I also just wanted to, without getting too much into the weeds here, get a little bit of basis for folks on what these rollbacks, uh, looked like.

[00:17:39] Jared: Sure. So, um, for bail – and the rollbacks on bail reform were the most significant, you know, there were rollbacks to discovery reform, there was a rollback to Raise the Age, again, the rollbacks to bail were just the most significant – it will lead to the, the incarceration of the most people of, uh, between all the rollbacks.

[00:17:58] So the biggest change, uh, with the rollbacks in 2022 – and, and just to note there were also rollbacks in 2020 right after, just a few months after the, the bill passed, but – uh, the biggest rollback is really just increasing the amount of low income people that will ultimately be subject to bail by expanding what harm looks like like. So in 2020 there was, uh, a rollback where if someone was out, and then if they were accused of another offense that caused quote unquote harm, then they could be bail eligible. So we’re talking about people that are accused of petty larceny. Uh, we’re talking about someone who is accused of taking diapers, of taking a can of soup, of, you know, just a really low-level offense now being bail eligible. And that again, really matters because you are just destabilizing communities by, by taking legally innocent people out of their communities, out of their treatment programs, out of their housing, out of their jobs, out of all the things that keep them stable. For what reason? We know that most misdemeanors in New York settle, and because of this expansion of the bail statute, that means that people, in a lot of instances, people might actually be spending more time in jail pretrial than they would actually spend if they were convicted, or if, which happens more likely than not, uh, their case settles for something less.

[00:19:26] Isabelle: And I’ll just note that, um, kind of in the announcements of these rollbacks and leading up to them, um, the governor and, and other folks that were kind of behind this push, um, admitted that bail reform was not actually responsible for spikes in crime. They essentially said, we know that bail reform is not to blame, that is what the data shows, but we still think that it needs tweaks. So it wasn’t even part of kind of their final argument, right. The crime spikes and public safety was not part of that, because we know that what this is actually about is maintaining the status quo of incarcerating, um, and incarcerating Black and Brown folks.

[00:20:02] And I think that it’s, it’s really important to note that even now after these rollbacks have happened, you see the mayor, um, you see a lot of folks kind of in opposition to bail reform rollbacks continuing to beat the drum, saying that bail reform is responsible for every single thing that happens in New York City.

[00:20:20] And what that signals to us is that this will not end. They will continue to blame our bail laws for everything that’s convenient, even when it is factually incorrect, when that person would not have been eligible for bail even before the bail reform law was passed. So that just means that we need to continue to be prepared with the messaging and the facts and to really be secure in our understanding of what this means and what we want our communities to look like.

[00:20:45] Because from my perspective, as an organizer that’s in community with folks that are doing this work every day, they’re only going to get louder. And I don’t see, um, a way to satisfy their need to continuously blame bail reform for things that are completely unrelated to it.

[00:21:03] Simon: Isabelle that reminds me of, or, or makes me think of something that I’m, I’m curious to hear from you, which is, given these rollbacks, um, and given that we sort of saw the momentum shift from, from progress to, to regression, what’s, what are sort of organizers feeling? What are they, what are they thinking right now?

[00:21:23] Isabelle: I think, like Jared said kind of towards the beginning, this is a years long fight and this fight has been led by directly impacted people that have experienced pretrial incarceration, that have been in Rikers, experienced the abuse of our jails and prisons. Um, so they’re absolutely ready to fight.

[00:21:40] There is no sense that this is over, that we cannot continue to push on this. But there is a real need that has been identified in kind of all of these spaces, um, that the public is engaged on this, um, and that we can really prepare people with the messaging that they need, even for themselves when they’re intaking this onslaught of fear mongering and pointing to bail as the issue, they’re able to kind of debunk that in their own heads.

[00:22:06] Because it’s very difficult when you’re bombarded with information like that to not internalize some of it, and it makes you start to question the things that you know and believe. Um, so I think that the main need right now is to really arm folks with the information that they need, um, and to really encourage them to, to think about who’s delivering the message, who is paying for this article to be published, who is writing the article, who are they connected to? All of that is so important when we’re constantly being bombarded with this kind of information.

[00:22:35] Jared: Totally. And, and the other thing I, I’d say on top of that is also to know that we have real solutions that we – but when I say we, I mean of course at New York Civil Liberties Union, but really in collaboration with all of our partners, which include a lot of directly impacted people – uh, we have real evidence-based solutions and real ways that the state and the cities could direct funding that actually address the problems that law enforcement claim are caused by bail.

[00:23:02] So some of those solutions are expanding violence interrupters. You know, with a shooting in particular, a shooting can easily end up being two shootings, or four shootings, or eight shootings, um, unless someone really steps in and, and just, and stops that cycle of violence. Cops show up after a crime has been committed.

[00:23:22] That isn’t safety, that’s just retribution, that’s punishment. There is a difference between—it seems to me that we should be more concerned about preventing more violence from happening than just the punishment piece of it, if you actually really care about community safety. So expanding what violence interrupters look like, expanding funding for them, these are evidence-based solutions that have worked throughout the country, but particularly also in New York, um, and in the very recent past. Um, really expanding what that looks like. Also truly compensating survivors of violence, making sure that someone who suffers a violent incident is actually made whole.

[00:23:59] That is also something that 1) is good for the survivor themselves, and 2) it’s also a really good way of preventing one incident from becoming two, from becoming four, to becoming eight. New York does have victim compensation funds, but making sure that they’re robust to really capture, uh, the entirety of what victims look like.

[00:24:20] Something that people don’t recognize is that, the binary that we’ve socially constructed about victim versus perpetrator, it’s completely false. People just do not live these, like, totally perfect lives. And oftentimes, someone is, uh, could be a member of both classes, or someone just simply doesn’t really wanna talk to law enforcement because they’re undocumented, because they’re a poor Black kid who’s been stopped a whole bunch of times in the Bronx for simply minding their own business and they really don’t wanna deal with law enforcement in order to access the victim compensation fund. Making sure that we’re actually providing compensation and trauma relief and everything else for survivors of violence, and ways that don’t force them to communicate with law enforcement would do much more for actually reducing violence and enhancing community safety than putting someone in a cage because they steal a Snickers. And then, uh, you know, just really investing in communities and, and recognizing that, as Isabelle noted before, the reason the communities that are the safest are the communities that have the most resources, and recognizing that giving people those resources – giving kids and young people jobs, and making sure that people that aren’t just kids could get jobs, like passing things like the Clean Slate Act that would clear, uh, clear people’s records, housing, housing for, uh, criminalized survivors, housing for young people, housing for families – just actually having a true safety net would, again, do so much more to prevent future acts of violence.

[00:25:52] Isabelle: And I think very often when advocates talk about non-carceral solutions for public safety, um, they’re met with like this, ‘there’s no evidence for this, this is like kind of star in the sky hope’. Um, what we know is that there is no evidence that incarcerating people pretrial, um, keeps us safe. There’s no, there’s no numbers that back that up, no data that backs that up. But there are numbers that back up violence interruption programs and community based programs that can actually prevent cycles of violence. For example, in Richmond, California, um, they have an Advanced Peace program, which is a violence interruption program that’s community led.

[00:26:26] Um, that program led to an 85% reduction in firearm assaults and a 65% reduction in related homicides. So this works, and that’s just one example. There are several kind of examples of this across the country where we’ve seen investment into community-based programs that actually stops harm at the source, and doesn’t wait until after. Because, as Jared said, the police do not prevent harm from happening, they respond to it. And this is so important right now, um, in New York City, as we see just a huge increase in reliance on police, in the numbers of police, all of this fear mongering is kind of mirrored in the language that’s happening around public safety and policing right now. And the more cops that are on the street, plainclothes units in Black and Brown communities, in poor communities, the more people are going to be incarcerated on crimes like this, for being accused of offenses that are low-level things like stealing bread, stealing diapers. All of that is going to increase, and it’s more important now than ever that we’re really prepared to push back against that increase and to fight for a system that does not incarcerate people simply because they’re too poor to pay.

[00:27:33] Jared: And what Isabel said, that’s not theoretical. We know that this new anti-gun unit in the city, they’re not—they’re going after people for low-level offenses. Uh, overwhelmingly that’s what our money is going towards. And, you know, that’s not community safety. At the same time—and, and I, I do want to also just make sure that we’re not making this distinction between people that maybe are accused of fare evasion, stealing a, a subway swipe and just saying that someone accused of, you know, an E felony, a low-level felony, is more deserving to go to jail pretrial. Simply incarcerating—we can’t incarcerate our way out of rises in violence. We need to recognize that there are just so many alternatives to incarceration that so many people, uh, ought to qualify and should qualify for that would actually inspire real community safety, uh, that we need to just be robustly thinking about what that looks like and actually investing in those folks.

[00:28:28] Isabelle: And to Jared’s point, I think it—that distinction is really important, that there’s no one that is more or less deserving of pretrial incarceration. When there is harm done, that, kind of, to the public seems more harmful than stealing a loaf of bread, that means that that person needs more services. That person needs more support.

[00:28:44] And it does not mean that they need incarceration compared to someone that committed something that was stealing a loaf of bread or stealing food from a store. It means that we need to actually distribute care to that person. Um, so incarceration just is never the solution to public safety, and it’s, it’s definitely not the solution to any kind of crime spike that is, is being kind of touted in the media as an urgent issue that we need to address.

[00:29:09] Simon: And with that, I think, you know that this has been an, an incredible conversation and I think really laid things out, um, for people. And I think the one thing I would want to touch on is, as we wrap up, is with all of this said where, where do we go from here?

[00:29:27] Jared: Um, you know, I, I would like to say that the pushback, uh, and bail reform and the rollbacks to bail reform, that’s it. We get to move on, but I, I just don’t think that that’s the case. I think where do we go from here is being vigilant and, and recognizing that there’s gonna be continued pushbacks. Um, I think if someone is a layperson and if they, you know, uh, if they just want to check out the different resources that there are to understand what bail reform did, why Raise the Age is important, uh, why discovery reform is so important – called Kalief’s Law – looking at the story of Kalief Browder, and recognizing that the prior system we had was so problematic that we need to, you know, make sure we don’t have more of them, and that is what these laws collectively did. You know, I, I, I think people educating themselves and then talking to a neighbor is so important.

[00:30:15] At the end of the day, as advocates, we just cannot keep up with the resources that the other side has. The side that’s perpetuating fear and everything else. What we have on our side is truth, and what we have on our side is, is, is organizing and being able to talk to people. I think for people to recognize that, you know, we won the victory on bail and so many other things, but there is a need to protect it, and there’s a need to educate people on what it is and what the criminal legal system is, that is just so incredibly important. And I’ll—and by saying, and it’s not just these reforms, literally every single criminal legal system reform that this state has passed recently has been under attack.

[00:30:56] And the state has frankly passed a lot more, a lot in the recent future, uh, because of changing political dynamics in Albany and also just because of changing attitudes, uh, that have really happened throughout the country and, and you know, New York is no, is no exception. So I’m talking about Less is More parole reform, the most significant parole change that’s happened in New York’s history.

[00:31:17] I’m talking about Raise the Age. I’m talking about Raise the Lower Age until Raise the Lower Age was enacted March 31st of 2021, New York was one of only two states where kids as young as seven were able to be prosecuted. Uh, I’m talking about things like the Walking While Trans ban that prevent, really, Black and Brown trans women that just have the audacity to exist in public spaces from getting picked up for quote unquote suspicion of prostitution.

[00:31:43] You know, there is a really robust campaign called Communities Not Cages that would just really change the way that New York sentencing laws work, would get rid of mandatory minimums and so many other things, it’s more robust parole reforms, it’s the Youth Justice and Opportunities Act that really corrects some of the ways that we treat young people.

[00:32:02] There’s just so much that we have to do in order to get to equity in this state, and I think the most important thing for people to do is to protect the reforms that we’ve already made and to fight for future reforms that we need.

[00:32:14] Isabelle: Yeah, and I really, I can’t emphasize enough, um, how important and impactful conversations with the people in your life are. Um, as an organizer, we often say the goal is to organize ourselves out of a job. We want to arm people with as much information and knowledge, and empower folks to take action in their own community. And that’s the goal.

[00:32:34] And I can’t tell you how many people in my life will call me or text me and say, you know, someone at work said something in passing about bail reform and how, um, it led to this incident that just happened in the city. Um, and I told them what you’ve told me about how bail reform actually works and how it’s not to blame for any of these things.

[00:32:53] All of that makes a difference. It has a ripple effect. Um, so if you don’t know what to do, what you can do is teach yourself about these issues, arm yourself with that information, and it will come up. You know, it’s a huge topic of conversation in New York right now. And use those moments to educate people and to bring them in.

[00:33:11] Um, and that will spread. And that’s really what we need. We need the baseline knowledge of New Yorkers to be the truth and the facts about bail reform and not the fear mongering and, and the lies, essentially.

[00:33:23] Simon: All right, well, with that, Isabelle Leyva, Jared Trujillo, thank you so much for being on Rights This Way.

[00:33:30] Isabelle: Thank you for having us.

[00:33:33] Simon: Thank you for listening. You can find out more about everything we talk about today by visiting, and you can follow us @NYCLU on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. If you have questions or comments about Rights This Way, you can email us at Until next time, I’m Simon McCormack. Thank you for fighting for a fair New York.

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