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DA: No way to tell if spike in crime is correlated to bail reform

“There's no way to tell that. There is literally no way,” explained District Attorney John Flynn.
Posted at 11:36 PM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 04:21:11-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The summer of 2020 has been a violent one in Buffalo. According to the Buffalo Police Department, 41 shootings happened in June, with eight deaths. Halfway through July and there have been 30 shootings, 3 of them deadly.

Buffalo isn't the only place seeing a spike in violent crime, New York City is as well.

“There is not one reason for the violence we've seen over this past month. There are many reasons and it starts with bail reform that began in January of this year,” said NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea.

7 Eyewitness News asked the Erie County District Attorney if there is a correlation between an uptick in violent crime in Buffalo and new bail reform laws.

“There's no way to tell that. There is literally no way,” explained District Attorney John Flynn.

Flynn says, there is really not enough data to make a decision about bail reform. He says it’s only been since January and COVID-19 has skewed crime numbers. He does say, there is one aspect of bail reform that could correlate with the rise in crime.

“A family member can pretty much go to court and just sign a piece of paper that says, I promise to pay money if Joe Smith doesn't come back to court,” added Flynn. He is talking about unsecured bonds. While alleged murderers won't receive this option, he says people facing lower level violent felonies can receive this option.

“That may have an impact. Because that's dealing with people who are committing more serious crimes,” said Flynn. There is no available data to back that theory. Flynn says unsecured bonds having playing a role on increased crime is an educated theory.

Flynn is in favor of tweaking bail reform, but believes the new laws are serving their purpose. Fewer people accused of non-violent crimes are sitting in jail awaiting trial. According to his office, in September of 2018, 1,074 people were incarcerated waiting for their trial date. That number now is 435.

An important note, violent crimes like shootings are on the rise this summer. Flynn says, thanks inpart to COVID-19, crime as a whole, is still down.