Bail reform laws revisited after latest hate crime attacks

More people are demanding a crackdown on the deficiencies in bail reform after the man arrested in a recent string of hate crimes in the Bronx could be released.

Video Transcript

BILL RITTER: The latest hate crimes, anti-Semitic attacks on at least four synagogues in the Bronx, now sparking calls for revisiting New York State's bail reform laws.

SANDRA BOOKMAN: And here's the reason. The man arrested for those hate crimes-- 42 of them-- was released with no bail set.

BILL RITTER: Now, more people are demanding a crackdown on the obvious deficiencies in bail reform. Here's Eyewitness News reporter CeFaan Kim.

CEFAAN KIM: It was a violent fury hurled at synagogues in the Bronx. Investigators say Jordan Burnette targeted four houses of worship, smashing their windows with rocks, fueled by hate. The 29-year-old charged with 42 counts of various offenses as hate crimes. Yet, under the state's bail reform laws, hate crime offenders are not bail eligible, meaning they can be released without posting bail.

DARCEL CLARK: As reprehensible as these charges are in this particular case, the law prohibits me from asking for bail. So I couldn't do it because I'm following the law, I'm not going to violate the law.

CEFAAN KIM: In her first interview since police made the arrest, Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark says because of the state's bail reform laws, she was forced instead to ask for supervised release. She wouldn't say whether Albany should revisit bail reform laws, but she did say this--

DARCEL CLARK: Before they changed the law, and even as the legislature was going through it, I as the Bronx DA, as well as many prosecutors, felt that hate crimes should be bail eligible, but it's not. And it's up to the legislature to change the law.

CEFAAN KIM: --meaning she felt hate crime perpetrators should not be released back onto the street. Even Mayor de Blasio, who is as progressive as they come, has been a supporter of bail reform. Even he says when it comes to hate crimes, judges need more space to use discretion when they think there is a legitimate public threat.

BILL DE BLASIO: You're talking about an attack on a synagogue-- a violent attack on a synagogue-- at a time when people are so concerned, and we see the horrible attacks on the Asian-American community. And I am concerned if someone has consistently committed a hate crime, I don't want to see them out on the street where they might do it again.

CEFAAN KIM: As for Burnette, he's due back in court May 7. The investigation is ongoing. In the Bronx, CeFaan Kim, Channel 7 Eyewitness News.