Latest hate crime attacks spark call for revisiting New York's bail reform laws

CeFaan Kim Image
Tuesday, May 4, 2021
Bail reform laws revisited after latest hate crime attacks
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CeFaan Kim reports on the calls for revisiting New York state's bail reform laws after anti-Semitic attacks on four synagogues in the Bronx.

RIVERDALE, Bronx (WABC) -- After anti-Semitic attacks on four synagogues in the Bronx, there are calls for revisiting New York State's bail reform laws.

More people are demanding a crackdown on the deficiencies in bail reform after the man arrested in the hate crimes could be released.

Investigators say Jordan Burnette targeted four houses or worship in a violent fury and smashed their windows with rocks - all fueled by hate.

The 29-year-old is charged with 42 counts of various offenses as hate crimes.

Yet, under the state's bail reform laws, hate crime offenders are not bail eligible which means they can be released without posting bail.

"As reprehensible as these charges are in this particular case, the law prohibits me from asking for bail, so I couldn't do it," Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark. "I'm following the law, I'm not going to violate the law."

In her first interview since police made the arrest, Clark says because of the state's bail reform laws, she was forced instead to ask for supervised release.

She wouldn't say whether Albany should revisit bail reform laws, but she did say this:

"Before they changed the law and even as the legislature was going through it, I as the Bronx DA as well as many prosecutors felt that hate crimes should be bail eligible, but it's not, and it's up to the legislature to change the law."

That means she felt hate crime perpetrators should not be released back onto the street.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is as progressive as they come and has been a supporter of bail reform, even says when it comes to hate crimes judges need more space to use discretion when they think there is a legitimate public threat.

The mayor said on NY1 Monday night that too many New Yorkers today are living in fear.

"You're talking about an attack on a synagogue, a violent attack on a synagogue, at a time when people are so concerned," he said. "And we've seen the horrible attacks on the Asian American community. I think one of the ways we fight hate crimes so making it clear there will be consequences, and I'm concerned if someone has consistently committed a hate crime - I don't want to see them out on the street where they might do it again."

Burnette is due back in court Friday. The investigation is ongoing.

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