New York State implemented historic bail reforms in January 2020, eliminating bail and pretrial detention in nearly all misdemeanor and nonviolent felony cases while preserving bail for nearly all violent felonies, such as gun possession, shootings, sex crimes, and murder. In July, the state passed a series of amendments that again made more cases eligible for bail and detention. The amendments reversed some of the initial reforms’ drastic reductions in the use of pretrial detention.
Since the implementation of the 2019 bail reform in New York State, controversy has surrounded the question of its impact on public safety and its broader success in establishing a more just and equitable system. By the end of 2020, some public officials attributed an alarming increase in violent crime to the state’s bail reforms. New York City’s judges were setting bail more frequently in cases where they still had discretion than earlier in the year.
The Covid-19 pandemic (which occurred three months after the bail reform’s effective date), the upheaval following the murder of George Floyd, and the subsequent effective implementation of various police and criminal justice reforms are confounding factors that make it exceptionally hard to assess the specific effects of the 2019 bail reform.
Changes in the Use of Monetary Bail
Before the reforms, monetary bail was a widely used form of pretrial release in New York State. Under this system, defendants were required to pay a set amount of money to be released from custody while awaiting trial. The amount of bail was determined by the judge based on factors such as the defendant’s criminal history and the severity of the charges.
With the advent of bail reform, the use of monetary bail has been significantly reduced, with a greater emphasis placed on alternative forms of pretrial release, such as supervised release and electronic monitoring. This has led into a decrease in the number of people who are incarcerated pretrial, as well as a reduction in the use of monetary bail.
The Impact on Incarceration Rates
The reduction in the use of monetary bail has significantly impacted incarceration rates in New York State. Before the reforms, the number of people incarcerated pretrial was high, with many defendants being held in jail simply because they could not afford to pay bail. With the reduction in the use of monetary bail, the number of people incarcerated pretrial has decreased, leading to a reduction in the overall incarceration rate in the state.
The Impact on Crime Rates
Despite a significant decrease in shootings and murders, robberies, burglaries, and other crimes, drove a 22 percent increase in overall major crime in New York City last year (2022) compared to the previous year. (NYT)
One of the key concerns about bail reform was the impact that it would have on crime rates. Critics argued that reducing the use of monetary bail would lead to increased crime, as defendants previously held in jail would be released into the community.
Data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services suggests that this has not been the case. Since the reforms were introduced, crime rates in New York State have remained stable, with no significant increase in either violent or property crime.
The bail reform in New York State has been a success, reducing the use of monetary bail and decreasing the number of people incarcerated pretrial. It has also positively impacted crime rates, with no significant increase in either violent or property crime.
This is a positive result and suggests that other states could benefit from similar reforms in their criminal justice systems. By reducing the use of monetary bail and increasing the use of alternative forms of pretrial release, we can help to improve the overall efficiency of the criminal justice system while also reducing the general number of people who are incarcerated pretrial.
Bail reform and crime surge
The article “How Bail Reform and Crime Surge Mix in an Angry Debate” by Deanna Paul and Kim Bellware, published in the Washington Post, explores the current debate surrounding bail reform and its impact on crime. The authors analyze the argument made by opponents of bail reform, who claim that the reduction of cash bail and the release of defendants before trial have led to a rise in crime. However, they also examine the counterargument made by supporters of bail reform, who argue that crime rates have increased due to various other factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession.
The authors highlight the concerns raised by both sides and the impact of bail reform on the criminal justice system. They also explore the racial disparities in the bail system and the financial burden it imposes on low-income individuals who cannot afford bail.
The article concludes that while both sides of the debate have valid concerns, the current data does not support a direct correlation between bail reform and increased crime. Further research and data analysis are needed to determine the impact of bail reform on crime rates and the criminal justice system as a whole.
The article provides a comprehensive look at the ongoing debate surrounding bail reform and its impact on crime rates. It offers a balanced view of the issue and highlights the need for further investigation and discussion to understand the effects of bail reform fully.
“The Facts on Bail Reform and Crime Rates in New York State.” Brennan Center for Justice, 10 Jan. 2023, www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/facts-bail-reform-and-crime-rates-new-york-state.
“Analysis | How Bail Reform, Crime Surge Mix in an Angry Debate.” Washington Post, 4 Nov. 2022, www.washingtonpost.com/business/how-bail-reform-crime-surge-mix-in-an-angry-debate/2022/11/04/1ae90d48-5c60-11ed-bc40-b5a130f95ee7_story.html.