Lawmakers make unannounced Rikers Island visit amid bail reform conflict, reports of unsafe conditions
New York state lawmakers showed up to Rikers Island unannounced on Thursday for a visit, following continued reports of unsafe and inhumane conditions in the jail.
Bail reform remains a topic of contention among New York’s leaders and elected officials, and recent proposals to change bail reform from Gov. Kathy Hochul have been met with pushback from state Democrats.
Currently, New York state law requires a judge to consider a defendant’s ability to pay when setting bail, referred to as choosing the “least restrictive” way to ensure someone returns to court.
Hochul is looking to remove that requirement, meaning the judge can set higher bail based explicitly on their assessment of a defendant’s threat to the community – something lawmakers at Rikers Island said will only harm people and put more people in these unsafe facilities.
News 12 reached out to the city’s Department of Correction for a statement and is awaiting a response.