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Bail Reform: Mayor, NYPD At Odds Over Plan That Will Keep Teens, Others Out Of Jail While Awaiting Trial

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Is he pandering for votes or needed bail reform?

Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to triple the number of teens who qualify for a get-out-of-jail-free card, even for some serious offenses, is generating push-back from the NYPD, including Commissioner James O'Neill, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported Tuesday.

The mayor has ordered city judges to spare teens and some adults from hearing the sound of jail doors slamming in their faces, even if they're arrested for crimes as serious as armed robbery, assault and burglary. He wants them released without bail, on the street, while awaiting trial.

James O'Neill
New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

"First of all, we've had so many people languish in jail because they couldn't afford bail and that was unfair," de Blasio said. "We've had mass incarceration that was harmful to the whole society."

The mayor said it will create a fairer society and will insure that teens, "are being redeemed, not just locked up."

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To some, it sounds like a man trying to burnish his progressive credentials on the presidential campaign trail. Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch called it, "pandering for votes during his quest for the presidency," claiming "'Progress' like this will doom this city and crash its economy by making our streets dangerous once again."

And Lynch is not the only one with reservations.

In an op-ed piece, O'Neill called on the Legislature to fix mistakes in a state bail reform law that goes into effect in January to allow judges to demand bail for people, "who represent a danger to others."

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O'Neill argued that the no-bail law, "will make the work of disrupting criminals and deterring crime much more difficult."

The mayor agreed with O'Neill on that, saying when asked if such an approach would give the appearance of speaking out of both sides of the mouth, "There are so many people who are not a threat who should not be held simply because they cant afford the bail and there are other people who could be a threat."

The Vera Institute's Insha Rahman argues that keeping people out of jail unless they are convicted reduces recidivism.

"Keep them in the community, where we know people actually have a higher likelihood of success staying out of trouble than if they're incarcerated," Rahman said.

The Vera Institute estimates there will be 2,000 fewer people in city jails when bail reform is fully implemented.

In New Jersey, which already has reforms, there are 30 percent fewer people in jail on any given day. The mayor's program goes into effect on Saturday.

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