Report details political influence of police unions on incoming bail reform rollbacks

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A new report highlights the political power of police and corrections unions on New York’s legislative process, with particular attention paid to campaign contributions. Controversial bail reform measures enacted before the coronavirus pandemic were subsequently dismantled when passing the budget in early April. Those changes are scheduled to go into effect on Thursday.

The report, “Sending New Yorkers to Jail,” works to expose links bail reform rollbacks to law enforcement officers’ unions’ contributions to election campaigns.

Since 2018, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has taken in $86,450 from law enforcement union, and six Democratic Senators from Long Island—who reportedly represented the driving force behind rollbacks in the legislature—each received an average of over $20,000.

On average, Senators who voted against bail reform received 10 times the donation from police unions than their opponents did. In the Assembly, the ratio is smaller, only 3-to-1.

Bail reform limits the practice of jailing individuals who have not been convicted of a crime. This “pretrial incarceration” system disproportionately affects low-income suspects and Black communities.

The report was commissioned by civil rights advocacy organizations Citizen Action of New York and the Center for Community Alternatives. “To address the mutually reinforcing harms of unjust political influence and anti-Black state violence,” their demands including reallocating police funds to community centers, expanding voting rights, and enacting campaign finance reform.

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