In Another Sign of a 2022 Run, Cuomo Wades Into Bail Reform Issue

The former governor advocated for adjustments to New York State’s bail laws, setting himself apart from Hochul.

AP/Seth Wenig, file
Governor Cuomo during a New York Hispanic Clergy Organization meeting February 17, 2022. AP/Seth Wenig, file

With New York’s bail laws shaping up to be a divisive issue in the 2022 governor’s race, Governor Cuomo today endorsed changes to New York’s “cashless bail” system. 

Ahead of a speaking event in the South Bronx and amid talk of a potential gubernatorial campaign, the former governor  separated himself from his successor, Governor Hochul, by coming out in support of altering the bail law.

“I made changes to bail reform after we passed it & we now know more changes are necessary. They require changes to the law. That is not a step backwards, it’s a step forwards,” Mr. Cuomo wrote in a tweet.

“Any major change is always a work in progress because it then affects other laws and responsible government then comes back and responds to those unanticipated effects and consequences,” the governor added.

Mr. Cuomo is referencing the 2019 law that altered New York’s bail system, including making sweeping changes to the types of crimes for which judges could set cash bail for alleged offenders. Under this system, many who would once have had to post bail to be released are now simply set free to await trial.

“Cashless bail” has become a central topic in statewide elections. Many are blaming it for a recent spike in crime, claiming offenders released under the system end up committing more crimes when in the past they would have been incarcerated.

Mr. Cuomo’s statement comes as speculation increases that he will declare his candidacy for governor in 2022. The governor’s second scheduled speaking event in the past two weeks is today at the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization in the South Bronx.

A recent poll showed the former governor sitting four points behind Ms. Hochul in a theoretical Democratic primary.

Ms. Hochul has expressed resistance to the idea of changing New York’s bail law. Other members of her party, including Representative Tom Suozzi and Mayor Adams, have pressured Albany for changes to the law.

Earlier this week, the state senate majority leader, Andrea Stweart-Cousins, appeared to shift accountability for what has become an increasingly unpopular reform onto Ms. Hochul.

“People want to exploit the fact that we do not want to incarcerate people because they are poor. So everything becomes quote, unquote bail reform,” Ms. Stewart-Cousins said. 

“I think the governor has been very clear that the reforms that we did were right. The kind of orchestrated message that somehow this was wrong is not true,” she added.

Mr. Cuomo’s recent declaration is in line with the sentiment of the majority of voters. 

“Nearly two-thirds of New Yorkers — including strong majorities of Republicans, independents, and Democrats, upstaters and downstaters — support amending the 2019 bail reform,” pollster Steven Greenberg said.


Mr. Payne is a political reporter at The New York Sun. He covers a broad range of topics focusing on New York State and New York City.

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