The New York State Assembly recently passed a controversial bill to prevent judges from setting bail for certain nonviolent offenses. However, the bill came with a critical oversight: It would also apply to some hate crimes that have recently terrorized Jewish communities in the tri-state area. Hate crimes like those allegedly done by Tiffany Harris, a Brooklyn woman who was arrested and then released without bail after slapping three Orthodox Jewish women.

That is why, last week, legislation to fix this blind spot and protect Jewish Americans and other minorities targeted by hate crimes was introduced in the Assembly. The American Jewish Congress believes that changes need to be made to the bail reform legislation enacted in New York state last year. We are heartened that our political leadership led by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins are open to changes to the bail reform law.

We have seen time and time again that even minor hate crimes contribute to an atmosphere of fear and pave the way for future violence. When taking on the difficult issue of criminal justice reform, government officials must stand firm against the scourge of hate crimes.

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