New York’s bail reform law and recidivism
In recent years, many states throughout the nation have taken steps to reduce or eliminate the use of monetary bail. According to proponents, the purpose of bail “reform” is to reduce jail populations and decrease income disparities regarding how bail is applied. However, critics believe that such laws would negatively impact public safety due to more defendants committing crimes while on pretrial release. Further, there also concerns that reforms could increase failure-to-appear rates.
One state where bail reform has received considerable attention is New York. Statewide reforms first took effect on January 1, 2020, though it was later amended in April 2020 and May 2022. Currently, there isn’t a ton of research examining whether bail reform contributed to crime, but more research is starting to trickle out on this topic. There seems to be a lot of variaiton regarding the findings though. One of the more recent reports on this topic was published earlier this month by the Data Collaborative for Justice (DCJ), which claimed that bail reform decreased recidivism among pretrial releases in New York City. However, this is inconsistent with a previous study from last year, also conducted in New York City, which found the opposite: bail reform efforts significantly increased recidivism. Thus, it’s important to read these studies very carefully to determine which ones are the most relevant and helpful. In this post, I will review the latest report released by the DCJ and provide my thoughts regarding its validity.