Is bail reform the cause of violent crime in Elmira?

Local News

ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Sirens rang over the City of Elmira this weekend, as police responded to multiple incidents of violent crime. Some officials point the finger at bail reform while others claim it is an issue with deeper, systemic roots.

“What we have done is set up a system where the repercussions for getting caught with an illegal firearm, even if it’s your first crime, no bail is eligible,” Sen. Tom O’Mara, District 58 (R), told 18 News Monday.

Democratic legislators say bail reform was enacted to fight racial and economic disparities in the criminal justice system. A New York Post analysis showed that out of more than 500 shooting incidents, only one suspect was released from jail due to the new bail reform laws. Right now, COVID-19 and the extensive pandemic may also be a cause for the uptick in crime.

“There is desperation in the air. It’s very easy to point the finger and say it’s bail reform because that’s what happened two years ago, but the data doesn’t support that why,” Assemblymember Anna Kelles, District 125 (D), added.

Republicans continue to point fingers at the Cuomo Administration, saying rules were softened including the criteria to obtain parole.

“Largely because of changes that Governor Cuomo and the democrat majority legislature had made over the years, making parole much easier to obtain,” Sen. O’Mara added.

According to Kelles, there has been a less than one percent increase in violent crime. While she says it is an issue, she does not believe it is an issue caused by new laws like bail reform.

“If it is fear, a loss of support systems, a loss of housing, and a destabilization of the economy for those who were already low income, then those are the areas that we need to intervene,” Assemblymember Kelles said.

These lawmakers are calling for a solution, but it is unclear how the New York State Legislature will come to an agreement. Last week the Assembly held a hearing on gun safety, where some experts claimed New York has made progress in the battle against violent crime, saying the Empire State is a model for the rest of the country. They also added that COVID-19 is a factor in the uptick.

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