NEW YORK, NY – According to reports, New York’s new bail reform law continues to ignite controversy as a judge on Sunday night was forced to set an anti-Semitic hate crime suspect free after an earlier judge had originally ordered him held on $20,000 bail.
Jordan Burnette of the Bronx, 29, is currently facing 42 charges from multiple crimes – including vandalizing a Riverdale synagogue – incidents that took place over an 11-day period of time, according to the Bronx District Attorney’s Office. Under New York’s new bail reform laws, authorities are not allowed to hold Burnette on bail, and instead were compelled to grant him a supervised release.
Burnette is alleged to have carried out multiple acts of vandalism and property destruction – many considered hate crime-related offenses – including smashing the glass doors and windows at Adath Israel, as well as pouring hand sanitizer over the synagogue’s prayer books before disposing of them in a nearby wooded area.
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Burnette is also accused of smashing multiple car windows and stealing a bicycle from Adath Israel’s shed, which he was allegedly riding when arrested by police.
Initially, Judge Louis Nock attempted to circumvent the bail law by arguing that smashing glass should be considered a violent felony, and ordered Burnette held under $20,000 bail. However, Assistant District Attorney Theresa Gottlieb instead told Nock on Sunday that their hands were tied, and that the suspect needed to be set free immediately.
“Given the number of attacks, we probably would have asked for substantial bail before January of 2020,” Gottlieb said. “The legislature did not include hate crimes in its revision of bail reform and, under the law as it exists today, this is not eligible. We will not violate the law.”
The bail reform law, which went into effect last year, prohibits cash bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies as a way to reduce the number of people in jail who can’t afford to pay bail. However, some have argued that the law has actually contributed to an increase in crime.