Governor Andrew Cuomo Says He'll End Cash Bail in New York This Year
"Rikers Island has to be closed and it has to be closed now."
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he will push to end cash bail in the state of New York this year at the 2018 Global Citizen Festival on Saturday.
“In America, you are still innocent until proven guilty and that is whether you are black or white, whether you are rich or poor,” he said. “We’re going to end cash bail system once for all, and we’re going to do it this year.”
Cuomo disparaged the ongoing racial and economic disparities in the country’s criminal justice system. In particular, he said that he would shut down Rikers Island, New York City's notorious prison often criticized for its treatment of incarcerated people.
“Eighty-six percent of the people on Rikers are people of color, 76% of the people of on Rikers have been found guilty of nothing,” he said. “They are just awaiting their day in court, many of them are waiting for two or three years.”
“That is not justice," he continued. “Rikers Island is a hellhole and Rikers Island has to be closed — and it has to be closed now.”
The governor said there need to be more alternatives to incarceration, “strict timeles for court dates," and that “we have to eliminate the racial bias that is pervasive in our criminal justice system."
He was responding to 9,432 global citizens who called his office demanding an end to cash bail in New York.
“As governor, I am proud to have closed more prisons than any governor than the history of the state, and I’m not done yet,” he said.
Cash bail means that if you’re rich, you get to walk and if you’re poor, and you can’t make bail, you sit in jail. That isn't justice.— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) September 29, 2018
We’re going to end the cash bail system once and for all, we’re going to do it in New York, and we’re going to do it this year. #GlobalCitizen
Cuomo was a part of a larger segment of the Global Citizen Festival focused on advocating for an end to cash bail, and singer, songwriter, and actor John Legend said that he and other people would hold the governor accountable.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Legend said. "We can’t just talk the talk. We have a lot of politicians talking the talk, and we're going to follow up with them, right? We need legislation passed — we better follow up with you, Governor Cuomo. All our governors around the country: We’re going to follow up with you, and we’re voting. It’s not enough to talk.”
The 2018 Global Citizen Festival in New York will be presented for the very first time by Citi. MSNBC and Comcast NBCUniversal will air a live simulcast of the Festival on MSNBC and MSNBC.com. The Festival will also be livestreamed on YouTube and Twitter, presented by Johnson & Johnson. Proud partners of the 2018 Global Citizen Festival include Global Citizen’s global health partner and major partner Johnson & Johnson, and major partners P&G, CHIME FOR CHANGE Founded by Gucci, Verizon, House of Mandela, iHeartMedia, and NYC Parks. Associate partners include Microsoft, Great Big Story, and One Championship.