Michael Bloomberg says he wants to eliminate cash bail for some non-violent criminal defendants, according to the New York Post.
The proposal is part of a criminal justice plan he announced this week. During a stop in Jackson, Mississippi, the former New York City mayor and current presidential candidate in the Democrat primaries said he would offer federal incentives and aid to states that reduce or eliminate cash bail for non-violent offenders. He said he wants to provide alternatives to jail for “low-risk” defendants before their trial.
He also said he wants to cut youth incarceration rates by as much as 50 percent. He said alternative programs can divert underage defendants from jail.
Bloomberg also repeated what he says is his regret for “stop-and-frisk” policing.
“We were hyper-focused on saving lives, and one of the things I look back and regret is we were too late in seeing the negative impact that our policies to save lives were having on day-to-day lives,” Bloomberg said.
“And I do want people to know what’s in my heart. I thought long and hard about this: No one should ever feel targeted or judged by the color of their skin … I made a mistake … I was wrong. I regret it, but I can’t undo history.”
Bloomberg, 77, has faced criticism from fellow Democrats and Party supporters for the policy, which he enacted while he was mayor of New York. He had defended the policy before entering the Democrat primary race. Critics say the policy especially impacted people of color and had a negative impact on police-community relations.
Bloomberg, however, defended his overall record as the city’s mayor.
“I care deeply about fighting discrimination in all of its forms,” Bloomberg said. “And the truth is, a big reason why I first ran for mayor was to right historic wrongs on race.”
“As president,” he added, “that is exactly what I would do, nationwide.”
Bloomberg also criticized President Donald Trump’s “First Step Act.” It reduced sentences for some people convicted of certain crimes. Bloomberg said he first backed the Trump administration plan, but has since reversed his approval.
“The Justice Department should provide incentives for states to experiment with and evaluate the impact of shorter sentences,” he said.
Bloomberg launched an unconventional primary campaign last month. He will bypass early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire, where he is not on the ballot. Instead, he plans to focus on Super Tuesday states, which hold their primaries on March 3. They include Virginia, California and Colorado and account for about 40 percent of the total delegate allocation in the Democrat primaries.
Bloomberg has already spent about $35 million dollars on his self-finance campaign to lead the Democrat Party in the 2020 election.
A poll released this week suggests that support for Bloomberg is growing. But it is still in single digits. The Hill-HarrisX poll put his support at 6 percent among likely Democrat voters and Democrat-leaning independents.