Following a handful of cases in which defendants were released under the state’s new bail law and then accused of committing additional crimes, Republican lawmakers and some Democrats have called for walking back elements of the new reforms.

Under the new law that went into effect three weeks ago, bail can only be set for those accused of violent felonies and a few other crimes—judges must only consider bail if the defendant poses a risk of flight in terms of returning to their next court date.

As a result, an upstate man charged with the unintentional, fatal shooting of his girlfriend, a suspected bank robber in New York City, and a young Long Island woman accused of a variety of crimes, were released without bail.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is on record saying judges should be allowed to consider whether a defendant is dangerous, and after a series of anti-Semitic attacks, others have suggested that hate crimes should be added to the list of offenses that allow judges to set bail.

“Let’s understand the facts, understand the consequences, discuss it intelligently, rationally, and in a sober way, and then let’s make the decisions that we need to make,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in his budget address this week.

Criminal justice advocates are concerned that changes to the law would undermine the purpose of the reforms, and that it would be a mistake to let judges take into account whether a defendant is dangerous.

While the dangerousness standard is used in almost all other states, including New Jersey, which reformed its own bail system nearly three years ago, the standard for New York’s bail laws did not change as a result of the reform. The cash bail system was supposed to be a mechanism to ensure that people returned to court, but the result has been a system in which poor defendants, often people of color, were jailed, while rich defendants who could afford bail walked free.

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In a conference call with supporters of the new law on Wednesday, Marie Ndiaye, supervising attorney for the Legal Aid Society’s Decarceration Project, said systems that rely on a suspect’s dangerousness are likely to be biased.

“Black and brown people no matter where they are in this country, to be frank, are going to always be labeled as a higher risk than white people,” she explained. “And that is not because black people are more dangerous or more likely to commit crimes, it is a direct result of over-policing and mass criminalization of black and brown bodies, and especially those who are poor.”

Ndiaye was referring to risk assessment tools used by cities and towns when someone is arrested. New York City’s algorithm considers a defendant’s prior history and community ties in determining whether they’re likely to return to court. In states where danger is the factor, Pro Publica reported that blacks are often given a higher risk score than whites even if they’re charged with the same offenses.

Ndiaye pointed to New Jersey, which eliminated most cash bail and where judges consider a defendant’s risk of danger. In 2012, she said, 54 percent of those held in jail pre-trial were black. Now, she said, fewer people are in jail awaiting trial but the same percentage of them are black.

“They’ve done nothing to address the racial inequity in that system,” she said.

Alexander Shalom, a senior supervising attorney at the ACLU of New Jersey, agreed that racial disparities still exist post-bail reform. But he said that doesn’t mean it’s wrong to consider a defendant’s level of danger. “Even within a system that considers dangerousness and uses algorithms we can still find ways to reduce racial disparities,” he explained, adding that there are ongoing conversations about how to improve the risk assessment system.

New Jersey’s algorithm looks at a defendant’s age, conviction history, incarceration history, and prior failures to appear in court, as well as the seriousness of the charge. But Shalom said it also uses the successes and failures of similar defendants to make predictions. For example, a young person charged with a violent crime may get a higher risk score based on the prediction that young people recidivate at higher rates.

Meanwhile, supporters of the New York system say there are early signs of success. DeAnna Hoskins, president and CEO of JustLeadershipUSA, referred to a 50 year-old from the Bronx who was arrested for a non-violent crime and couldn’t afford bail. “He languished on Rikers Island for 15 months” and lost his job and apartment.

He was released on January 1st because of the new bail laws and moved into an in-patient drug treatment program which, she said, “he would have not had the opportunity to do had he continued to sit on Rikers Island and wait for his court date.”

Beth Fertig is a senior reporter covering immigration, courts, and legal affairs at WNYC. You can follow her on Twitter at @bethfertig.