By Jariah Moore
BROOKLYN, NY – In a letter to members, NAACP Brooklyn branch President L. Joy Williams urged her organization to “stand firm in [their] commitment to criminal justice reform” following news of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s desire to repeal recent bail reform.
According to President Williams, “The Governor has sought to eliminate the ‘least restrictive means to reasonably assure the person’s return to court.’”
President Williams writes that both the language of “least restrictive means” and “the stated purpose of bail– to ensure a person’s return to court– has always been the law in New York.”
Williams explains the “least restrictive means” standard is a measure that ensures that only minimal means are used to make sure that an individual returns to court, adding that this standard is “derived from constitutional protections that [have] guided New York judges for decades.”
Williams claims the governor is not simply looking to discard New York of the new reforms, but is “fundamentally changing the law itself” by eliminating the language used to explicitly establish bail reform from the legislation.
President Williams acknowledges the concerns of the opposition, noting that they feel that bail reform legislation “poses a threat to public safety.” She insists, however, that these claims are not well supported by evidence.
Williams notes further the 2019 bail reform legislation has “made it possible for thousands of people to return to their families, maintain employment, and participate in their communities while awaiting trial.”
She maintains bail reform “is crucial for promoting a fairer and more equitable justice system in New York State.”
President Williams calls the Brooklyn branch of the NAACP to action, stating, “We ask you to work with advocates, community leaders, and other stakeholders to address additional justice reform initiatives that continue to promote fairness and equity in our criminal justice system.”