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Poll: New York Voters Oppose New Bail Law

Law enforcement officials from Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties discuss the impact of bail and discovery reforms set to go into effect January 1st
Pat Bradley/WAMC
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Law enforcement officials from Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties discussed the impact of bail and discovery reforms before they went into effect January 1st.

A Siena College poll released today measures New Yorkers’ thoughts on the state’s new criminal justice laws and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

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In a major turnaround from previous polling, New York voters, by a 12-point margin, say the new bail law is bad for the state. Pollster Steve Greenberg:    "Voter support for the new bail law has dropped dramatically since the law was first passed back in April. Back in April 55 percent of New Yorkers thought the new bail reform law would be good for New York. 38 percent thought it would be bad for New York. But here we are today in the middle of January 2020, and while 37 percent of New Yorkers still think the new bell law is good for New York, 49 percent, a plurality, said it will be bad, it is bad for New York. So back in April support by 17 points, today, opposition by 12 points, 29-point turn around. Where was the biggest turnaround? Independent voters supported it 60-38 back in April. Oppose it today 56-29. Suburban voters, downstate suburban voters, supported it 50-41. Now oppose it 64-23. And older voters, voters 55 and older who had supported it 53 to 37 percent now oppose it 57 to 32 percent."

Albany Times Union city editor Mike Goodwin says the laws are already affecting one industry:   "The state's bail bond business looks like it's on its way to being the first true casualty of the new state bail reform laws that end the practice of holding defendants on bail for all but violent crimes. Jay Bernardo president of Bernardo - Goldstein & Quinn, the bail bond agency that his father started in 1962, estimated that business has dropped between 80 and 90 percent since New York's bail reforms went into effect at the beginning of the year. Advocates for bail reform say the old practice of holding defendants on bail on unfairly kept poor defendants in jail, while those of means were able to deposit the type of money that triggered a bail bond. New York is home to some 212 bail bond agents, who have more than 2000 employees. But Bernardo said many began cutting jobs the week before the reforms took place."

Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo's favorability numbers have gone up a notch: Greenberg says Cuomo has a 49-45 percent favorability rating up from a negative 44-49 percent rating in November.  Greenberg adds that about a dozen of the Governor's state-of-the-state proposals enjoy overwhelming support from voters.  "Issues from paid sick leave to reducing the corporate tax rate, to passing an ERA, to protecting workers in the gig economy, to requiring that every elected official who earns over a hundred thousand dollars a year make their tax returns public, to banning Styrofoam. All of these issues have at least two thirds of voters supporting them, and all of them enjoy widespread bipartisan support."

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Odds & Ends (See the complete Siena Poll HERE)
By a 49-41 percent margin, voters say the state is headed on the right track, up from 45-42 percent in November, and the best it’s been since it was 49-40 percent in January 2019.
Both United States Senators are doing well with voters heading into their stints as impeachment jurors.

Chuck Schumer has a 54-36 percent favorability rating, up from 51-40 percent in November.

Kirsten Gillibrand has a 45-29 percent favorability rating, up from 41-36 percent in September, her best since January 2019.

President Donald Trump has a negative 31-64 percent favorability rating, unchanged from 32-65 percent in November. Michael Bloomberg has a 51-38 percent favorability rating, up from 47-39 percent in November.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has a 27-15 percent favorability rating, with 58 percent of voters not knowing him or having an opinion.

Attorney General Letitia James has a 36-15-49 percent favorability rating.

The Siena College Poll was conducted January 11-16, 2020 by telephone calls conducted in English to 814 New York State registered voters. Respondent sampling was initiated by asking for the youngest male in the household. It has an overall margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points including the design effects resulting from weighting. Sampling was conducted via a stratified dual frame probability sample of landline (ASDE) and cell phone (Dynata) telephone numbers from within New York State. Data was statistically adjusted by age, party by region, race/ethnicity, and gender to ensure representativeness.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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