Assessing Potential Impacts of 2020 Bail Reforms in New York City

On April 1, 2019, New York State passed extensive legislative reforms aimed at transforming the criminal justice system and its impact on New Yorkers. Among the most significant changes are those to the laws governing bail in New York State (“2020 Bail Reforms”), which went into effect on January 1, 2020. These reforms, among other things, restrict the charges eligible for bail, mandate that individuals be released on recognizance (ROR) unless more restrictive conditions are needed to assure return to courts, and require courts to consider an individual’s ability to pay bail. Using data from the New York State Office of Court Administration, DCJ applied 2020 Bail Reforms to 2018 arraignments in New York City criminal courts to assess how pretrial release outcomes would have differed in the city as a whole and by borough.

Key Findings:

  • In 2018, 105,161 cases were released without bail. Had 2020 Bail Reforms been in place in 2018, NYC criminal courts would have been required to order release without bail in an additional 20,349 cases.
  • The cumulative amount of bail set in these 20,349 cases was almost $200 million.
  • In 2018, 71.9% of cases in Manhattan were released without bail. Had 2020 Bail Reforms been in place in 2018, 91.3% of cases in Manhattan would likely have resulted in release without bail.
  • Had 2020 Bail Reforms been in place between 2005 and 2018, NYC criminal courts would have been required to order release without bail in an additional 555,715 cases where bail was actually imposed.

Related Press and Media

Why Abolishing Bail for Some Crimes Has Law Enforcement on Edge (New York Times)
Bail overhaul set to take effect in new year (Politico)
Bail Reform: Law Enforcement Officials Voice Concerns Over New York’s Criminal Justice Changes (CBS)
New York City Plans Support Network for Defendants Freed Under New Bail Laws (Wall Street Journal)
City Expands Award-Winning, Nationally Recognized Supervised Release Program in Response to State Bail Reform (nyc.gov)
Inside City Hall Feature with DCJ Director Preeti Chauhan (NY1)
Study Finds Bail Reforms Would Have Released 20,000 People From Jail in 2018 (New York Law Journal)
Cash Bail Will Mostly End in NY in 2020. Here’s What That Could Look Like. (NY1