NYC Judge Releases Hate Crime Suspect, Says Bail Reform Law Leaves No Choice


Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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A man charged with vandalizing several synagogues in New York City was placed on supervised release due to state law that blocks individuals facing certain types of hate crimes charges from being held on bail, Fox News reported.

Jordan Burnette, 29, was arrested Saturday and charged with multiple hate crimes, including burglary and criminal mischief, in relation to the vandalism of four Bronx synagogues. Police say Burnette was riding a bike stolen from the synagogue at the time of his arrest, according to CBSN New York.

Initially, Judge Louis Nock ordered Burnette be held on $20,000 bail, which prosecutors did not ask for as they argued it would defy New York’s bail reform laws. 

The bail reform law was implemented in early 2020, and was intended to reduce the number of people jailed while awaiting trial because they could not afford to pay their bail, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

For many misdemeanors and non-violent felonies, including those inspired by hate, judges are required by the law to release suspects with no cash bail. Judges are also required to release suspects with the least restrictive conditions possible.

Assistant District Attorney Theresa Gottlieb said in court that before the bail reform was put into place in January 2020 prosecutors would have asked for “substantial bail” due to the number of attacks Burnette is accused of carrying out. 

But because hate crimes weren’t included in the bail reform law, Burnette had to be released. 

“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,” Gottlieb said, according to Fox News. “We will not violate the law.”

The New York Police Department’s (NYPD) Hate Crimes Task Force led the investigation into the individual believed to have hurled rocks at four Bronx synagogues over the course of a weekend. (RELATED: NYPD Hate Crime Unit Searches For Man Suspected Of Hurling Rocks At Multiple Synagogues)

In each attack, a suspect is believed to have thrown rocks and shattered or heavily damaged windows and doors at the synagogues at nighttime.

“He is being charged with burglary as a hate crime and also faces numerous charges relating to the many acts of vandalism as hate crimes that have taken place in this community,” NYPD Hate Crime Task Force Deputy Inspector Jessica Corey said, according to CBSN New York

Burnette also allegedly smashed multiple car windows and doused prayer books in hand sanitizer before throwing them in nearby woods, according to Fox News.

Judge Nock reportedly determined Burnette would be held on bail because the suspect is accused of shattering glass, which is a violent felony, Fox News reported. But on Sunday night, a judge ordered Burnette be released.