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Seal of the New York State Assembly, the lower house of NY state's legislature.

Just days after the start of 2020, New York Democratic Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein is pushing for changes to the state’s new bail-reform law, which allows for people charged with certain crimes to be released from jail prior to a trial without posting bail.

Touted as one of the hallmarks of New York’s criminal-justice reform, the new bail law is facing a backlash, particularly in light of the rise in anti-Semitic attacks in New York City. Eichenstein represents the heavily Orthodox communities of Midwood and Borough Park in Brooklyn.

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Under the current law, bail is eliminated for people facing misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies. The law also requires police to issue “desk appearance tickets,” instead of arresting many of those suspects.

Practically speaking, the concern is that those who allegedly commit nonviolent hate crimes would remain on the streets, putting the public at risk.

Critics point to the case of Tiffany Harris, who was arrested in late December after hitting three Orthodox women. She was released without bail because of the pending new law, and then went on to attack another woman and was arrested again.

Eichenstein’s proposed amendment would classify hate crimes as a “qualifying offense,” giving the courts leeway to affix bail or to keep in custody people charged with such incidents.

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