A coalition of 136 advocate groups in a new letter to Gov. Cuomo say it will take more than ending cash bail to effectively end mass pretrial jailing.
In a letter to Cuomo obtained by the Daily News, the groups say they are encouraged by Cuomo's stated commitment to end cash bail in the coming legislative session. But they add that "we cannot abide legislation that maintains other for-profit influences or replaces money bail with mass community surveillance, racially-biased risk assessment instruments, or an expansion of 'preventative' detention."
"Decarceration must be a central priority of your bail reform efforts," the letter says.
The letter says that on any given day last year, 16,000 New Yorkers remained behind bars because they could not afford bail.
To address it, the groups are calling for the expanded use of desk appearance tickets to prevent time spent in jail, mandated release without conditions for people accused of misdemeanors and nonviolent felony offense, and a universal presumption of release pretrial.
The coalition also wants to eliminate the use of commercial bail bonds, end "wealth-based incarceration," require evidentiary hearings within two days of arraignment, and set speedy trial requirements that mandate the release of anyone when their trial does not begin within the specified time frame.
They argue cash bail should go, but not be replaced by electronic monitoring or risk assessment instruments used to determine whether someone should be released that advocates say are often racially biased.
In addition, they want require court appearance alerts and the collection and public reporting of of data showing the number of individuals in custody prior to trial, the length of stay, and the racial and gender background of the accused and the top charges.
The letter was signed by public defenders, faith leaders, grassroots organizations, and civil rights groups. They include the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network, the state NAACP, different chapters of Black Lives Matter, the Chief Defenders Association of New York, the New York City Legal Aid Society, the Innocence Project, and the New York Civil Liberties Union.
"The current political landscape, lessons learned from bail reform efforts across the country, and unprecedented grassroots momentum have created a unique and powerful opportunity for New York to lead in the movement to end mass pretrial jailing without replacing our current unjust system with racially-biased risk assessments or mass community surveillance," the letter says.
Cuomo has called for an end to cash bail, but the Republicans who controlled the Senate would not agree to it.
But come January, the Democrats will control both houses of the Legislature, leaving advocates hopeful a more expansive criminal justice reform package can pass.
Cuomo's spokesman Jason Conwall said that "the governor has achieved groundbreaking criminal justice reforms and, year after year, continues to advance and support proposals to address challenges across the entire criminal justice system.
"With the cooperation of Democratic majorities in the Senate and Assembly, which we haven't had in years, we look forward to supporting even more reforms to make New York a fairer and more just state for all."