Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Rabbi Rachel Timoner, and Matt Nosanchuk write a letter to the editor in response to a news article published January 29, 2020, “Attorney General Adds an Arrow to the Quiver of Critics of Bail Reform.”
Opponents of New York’s bail reform law have enlisted a new ally: Attorney General William P. Barr, who announced federal hate crime charges against a woman whose case has become the rallying cry of bail reform. Exploiting recent anti-Semitic attacks to push for the repeal of important criminal justice reforms is shameful, dangerous and misguided.
Bail reform opponents ignore the actual facts of the anti-Semitic incidents they point to as arguments. In Tiffany Harris’s case, the alleged assault on three Orthodox Jewish women occurred before Ms. Harris was released without bail and before New York’s bail reform went into effect. Presenting the two as related is fundamentally dishonest.
Rolling back criminal justice reforms to “protect” Jewish communities sends a false message that preserving a racist criminal justice system will combat anti-Semitism. Rather than keeping us safe, this divisive approach will only drive a wedge between Jews and the allies we must work with to counter the bigotry that has fueled these recent attacks.
Our leaders should focus on uniting us, not fueling distrust and fear to serve their political interests.
Ms. Kleinbaum and Ms. Timoner are rabbis. Mr. Nosanchuk is a lawyer.