Support for cashless bail continues to drop, according to new Siena poll

Legislative Gazette photo by Cloey Callahan
Assemblyman Harvey Epstein and other supporters of New York’s reformed bail laws held a rally in the Capitol on February 11, 2020 to speak out against repealing the new law that went into effect Jan. 1. A new poll by Siena College released Monday shows support for cashless bail among voters is dropping, with 59 percent now saying it is “bad for New York.”

A new Siena College poll of 658 registered voters shows that support for the state’s new bail reforms continues to drop, with 59 percent of respondents saying it is “bad for New York.”

Just one month ago — when the law first went into effect — 49 percent of voters said the cashless bail law was bad for New York.

In April 2019, when the law was first adopted as part of the state budget, 55 percent of voters told Siena pollsters that cashless bail would be “good for New York” while 38 percent said it was a bad policy.

The law eliminates monetary bail for people facing misdemeanor and non-violent felony charges. The new law went into effect January 1, 2020, and since then, it has been one of the most contentious issues in Albany this legislative session.

Republican lawmakers, police and prosecutors have been vocal in their opposition, and have kept a running list of news articles which they demonstrates how the new law puts New Yorkers in danger from repeat criminals.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that if the law amended, he wants it amended by the budget deadline of April 1, and he added that he wants “to respond to facts and data, not hysterics and politics in this crazy partisan time.”

Watch Gov. Cuomo discuss bail reform on February 24, 2020

Video Produced by Emily Forman, Legislative Gazette

The new Siena poll released Monday asked voters to respond to this question: “Do you think this law is good for New York or bad for New York?”

The poll, which has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points, shows that cashless bail is unpopular among most demographics across the state. African Americans and those who identify as liberal are the only groups in which a majority believe the policy is “good for New York.”

According to the poll:

  • Forty-four percent of Democrats say cashless bail is good for New York; 49 percent say it is bad.
  • Eighty-five percent of Republicans say it is bad for New York; 12 percent disagree
  • Sixty-six percent of independent voters say it is bad; up from 56 percent just one month ago
  • Sixty-three percent of male voters say it is bad; 30 percent say it is good
  • Fifty-six percent of female voters say it is bad; 36 percent say it is good
  • Sixty-three percent of union households say it is a bad policy; 29 percent say it is good
  • In New York City, 51 percent of voters there say it is bad; 42 percent say it is good
  • In the suburbs of New York, 65 percent say it is bad; 32 percent say it is good
  • Upstate, 65 percent say it is bad for New York; 24 percent say it is good
  • Sixty-seven percent of white voters say it is bad for New York; 26 percent say it is good
  • Fifty-three percent of black voters say cashless bail is good for New York; 40 percent say it is bad
  • Among Latino voters, 48 percent say it is bad; 44 percent say it is good

“Support for the new bail law continues to plummet,” said Siena College Pollster Steven Greenberg. “In April [of last year], New Yorkers thought the new law would be good for the state by 17 points. Last month, voters said the new law is bad for the state by a margin of 12 points. Today, that margin for thinking the law is bad for New York has bulged to 26 points.”