Williams slams Hochul’s gambit to roll back bail reforms

Public Advocate and gubernatorial candidate Jumaane Williams, center, decries his primary opponent Gov. Kathy Hochul for reportedly looking to roll back some bail reforms. Photo Credit: Ethan Stark-Miller

Standing in the shadow of the Vessel sculpture at Hudson Yards, Public Advocate and gubernatorial candidate Jumaane Williams Friday decried his primary opponent Gov. Kathy Hochul for reportedly looking to roll back some bail reforms passed in 2019.

Williams took off the gloves with Hochul in an unrelated event while presenting his own housing plan.

“What I saw in that plan should scare everybody,” Williams said. “We look across the country and we see cities and states (where) violence is actually worse than ours. But we have to be clear that violence is going up in New York and we can’t ignore it. But I mentioned the other cities and other states because many of those cities and states have what it is the governor’s proposing. They have and allow (a ‘dangerousness standard’). They haven’t changed their bail laws. And that violence is going up.”

“So, what we need is a governor who understands how to really produce public safety and not try to jam up our jails that already have a human crisis going on,” he added.

Joining Williams were his running mate for lieutenant governor Ana Maria Archila and city Comptroller Brad Lander as well as representatives of advocacy organizations like Make the Road Action and New York Communities for Change.

Hochul’s forthcoming 10-point public safety plan came to light yesterday not from the governor’s administration itself, but through a memo outlining the plan obtained by several news outlets. According to those reports, Hochul intends to try and incorporate her plan into the state budget, which has to be negotiated with the state legislature and passed before an April 1 deadline.

The governor’s plan would make certain crimes that currently only warrant a desk appearance ticket (DAT) – including some gun, subway and hate crimes – bail eligible. Giving judges the discretion to hold suspected criminals using these criteria is often called a “dangerousness standard.”

The plan would also make changes to the “Raise the Age” statute passed in 2017, which raised the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18.

As of this writing, Hochul’s administration still hasn’t confirmed their plan to release this 10-point public safety proposal.

Archila suggested Hochul is trying to pass these changes in the budget process so it’s harder for state legislative leaders – who’ve been strongly opposed to changing the bail laws and “Raise the Age” – from stopping her.

“They’re using the last few weeks of the budget process to try to blackmail the legislature,” Archila said. “They’re saying, ‘oh, you want childcare funding? Then pass our racist proposal.’”

Williams’ housing plan involves revamping the Empire State Development (ESD), which he said currently functions to give subsidies to developers, and turning it into an agency responsible for building publicly-owned, publicly-financed and publicly-built housing. It would be available to people with a range of incomes around the state and would cap rents at 30 percent of a household’s income.

His plan also aims to create permanently affordable housing in buildings controlled by tenant-unions or cooperatives instead of developers. And build 20,000 units of supportive housing for people who are experiencing homelessness, have mental health issues or are re-entering society from prison.

“I’m committed to finally giving New Yorkers a public option for housing, which will allow us to build and preserve 1 million quality carbon neutral housing units for working class and middle class New Yorkers,” Williams said.