RESPONSE TO INACCURATE REPORTING ABOUT BAIL LAWS IN DENIRO BURGLARY CASE
NEW YORK, NY – News outlets’ frenzied rush to blame bail reform for the release of a woman accused of multiple residential burglaries, including the residence of actor Robert DeNiro, are basing their story on inaccurate reporting. Burglary of a residence has always been a bail eligible offense. Bail reform did not change this, and reports to the contrary are inaccurate and irresponsible.
In response, Arielle Reid, Supervising Attorney of the Decarceration Project of the Legal Aid Society released the following statement: “Multiple news outlets blamed bail reform for the burglary of actor Robert DeNiro’s residence, breathlessly repeating an inaccurate claim: that the burglary of a residence is not a bail-eligible offense. In fact, the current offense and the prior reported allegations were bail eligible before bail reform, and remain so today, even for someone’s first arrest. This kind of easily refuted lie is what continues to fan the flames of fear and take the focus away from the fact that repeated arrests and police intervention have demonstrably not improved public safety. Continuing to inaccurately blame bail reform instead of addressing the intentional divestment from community resources and economic opportunities makes for a splashier headline but does nothing to actually make us safe.”
- In April of 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul and the Legislature again rolled back New York’s bail laws despite acknowledging that pretrial reform has not led to a rise in crime. The charge of Burglary in the Second Degree within a residential dwelling remained unchanged in regards to bail. The charge has never been amended and has always been eligible for bail even if a first arrest.
- Data shows that bail reform has succeeded in reducing the injustice of pretrial incarceration and upholding public safety. The vast majority of people are successfully released pretrial.
- New York’s bail reform law succeeded in protecting and upholding public safety. Claims to the contrary are based on fear-mongering, not facts. And blaming the wrong cause gets in the way of finding the right solution, especially when we know what works. Increased investments in community-based interventions and public health solutions have proven to be effective at addressing gun violence and making our neighborhoods safer. In New York City, implementation of the Save Our Streets program in Crown Heights led to an estimated 20 percent reduction in gun violence compared to adjacent police districts. Similarly, well-funded, community-based pretrial services, are another critical investment to support safety and success for people awaiting trial. These investments bolster community safety, prevent future gun violence, and mitigate against the instability and divestment that harm the very communities most affected by violence.
- More than half of all arrests made by the NYPD are tossed out by judges and prosecutors. In 2021, 66.1% of all NYC arrests were declined for prosecution or eventually dismissed because they could not withstand basic court scrutiny – clear evidence of an epidemic of wrongful arrests. This was true before and after bail reform, though after bail reform, many New Yorkers were protected from wrongful incarceration in these cases.
- The Office of Court Administration recently released the latest batch of bail data from 2021, giving a clear picture of a decline from 2020 in the percentage of re-arrests of people released on bail or own-recognizance. According to an initial analysis from the Vera Institute of Justice, rearrest rates in NYC decreased by 21.1 percent in 2021 as compared to 2020 when bail reforms first took effect.
- Additionally, as reported in Newsday, the data shows that the rearrest rates for violent felonies across the state are also low and in decline. In 2021, for the period ending December 1st, only 2.4% of all defendants were rearrested later on a violent felony — meaning 97.6% were not.
- The chaos of COVID-19 caused an uptick in crime across the country. Many of the loudest voices blame progressive criminal justice reforms, but 8 of the 10 states with the highest murder rates are red states. Republican-led cities of similar size had more murders than their Democratic counterparts, and murder rates were far higher in smaller Republican-led cities like Anchorage and Lubbock. Moreover, under New York’s bail reform, judges retained discretion to set bail in gun cases, so changing bail laws won’t change gun enforcement. In fact, a report from New York City Comptroller Brad Lander evaluates law enforcement data and finds that, contrary to what many politicians have said in the press, bail reform definitively did not cause the recent increase in shootings.
- Fewer than one percent of people on pretrial release in New York City are rearrested for a violent felony in any given month, a rate that remained constant before and after bail reform.
- Between January 2020 & June 2021, 91% of people released on their own recognizance (that is, without bail) had no bench warrant issued against them, meaning they attended all their scheduled court dates––similar to people with bail set, and similar to pre-bail reform.
- The safest communities are the ones with the most resources, not the highest jail populations. Data show that community-based, public health-centered violence intervention programs do a better job of preventing and decreasing gun crime than policing and prosecution.
- Pretrial incarceration can exacerbate drivers of crime. By destabilizing and disrupting people’s lives pretrial incarceration increases the likelihood of future arrests and undermines the health and safety of individuals, families, and their communities.
CONTACT: Nick Brennan | firstname.lastname@example.org | 908.461.5600
 See Criminal Procedure Law Section 510.10(4)(a), which states that “burglary in the second degree as defined in subdivision two of section 140.25 of the penal law shall be a qualifying offense . . . where the defendant is charged with entering the living area of the dwelling.”