New Project Provides Fact Check Against Misinformation about New York Bail Reform Amid Ongoing Threat of Rollbacks
“Justice Not Fear” Combats Opponents’ Campaign to End Bail Reform Despite Public Health and Safety Success with the Truth
NEW YORK – A new project launched today by media and education initiative, Zealous, provides ongoing briefings by legal and policy experts to fact check, and correct misinformation and fearmongering around New York’s bail reform law. Since even before bail reform laws took effect in 20202, media reporting and public statements around the issue have been consistently inaccurate and biased towards opponents of bail reform in law enforcement.
“Justice Not Fear” tracks stories and public statements about the impact of pretrial reform and reviews them to correct false and misleading information, provide additional context, and promote accurate coverage. The project draws on extensive legal experience, public databases, court resources, personal accounts, public defender offices, and the law itself to ensure that the legislation and its impact are being correctly portrayed.
The project will serve as an ongoing resource for lawmakers, advocates, reporters, and the public to provide accurate and accessible information from legal and policy experts to help key stakeholders understand, discuss, and set policy around bail and other criminal justice reforms.
“New York’s pre-trial reforms implemented in 2020 were modest but impactful changes to a system that has long disregarded the rights of people who are facing criminal charges while presumed innocent,” said MK Kaishan, civil rights attorney and Zealous’s Legal Policy and Justice Advocacy Fellow, who is leading the project. “But the predictable response from police, prosecutors, and reform opponents to these protections has been a relentless and coordinated campaign, amplified by the media, of misinformation and frequently racist fearmongering.”
Bail reform in New York has been an extraordinary success for public health and safety, enabling thousands of New Yorkers to await trial in their communities, rather than in jail. Taxpayers have saved over $600 million dollars that can support community investments instead. And as before bail reform, exceptionally few people released are rearrested. But despite the facts and data, opponents of pretrial reform are trying to undermine it, fueled in large part by misinformation about the law and its impact.
“Data clearly shows that attempts to tie pre-trial freedom to crime are false and that jail itself is a public safety hazard, yet efforts to undermine these reforms continue. Now, amidst an acute humanitarian crisis in New York’s jails and additional threats to roll back existing reforms, it is more important than ever to correct the record and educate the public about the true impact of policies that prioritize freedom and transparency.”
About Zealous: Zealous is a national advocacy and education initiative working to topple the historic imbalance of power over criminal justice media and policy. They do this by supporting and training public defenders, advocates, and people with direct experience to harness the power of media, technology, storytelling, and the arts.