Before Bail Reform: Pretrial Bail Decisions and Outcomes in New York’s Justice Courts

This report was authored by DCJ’s partners at The John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety, and is a companion to DCJ’s May 2022 report: “Bail Reform in Action: Pretrial Release Outcomes in New York State, 2019-2020.”

This report represents the first in a series of reports examining how bail reform impacted Justice Courts – courts that process criminal matters in the towns and villages outside the state’s incorporated cities. This initial report evaluates Justice Court proceedings in the two-year period before bail reform went into effect, and lays the groundwork for continued data collection and analysis, as data become available for cases arraigned in 2020 and 2021 that will allow comparison of pre- and post-reform bail decisions and outcomes.

Key Findings:
  • Caseload: Justice Courts arraigned 19,060 new cases during 2018 and 2019, which is more than City courts, although caseload varied across counties.
  • Pretrial Decision-Making: Justice Courts varied in their pretrial decision making across counties, although, in the sample analyzed for this report, Justice Courts were more likely to release people than City courts from the same counties, and over half of the Justice Court judges ordered non-monetary release in their bail decisions.
    • Pretrial decision making fluctuated from 2018 to 2019, in Justice Court judges’ inclination towards non-monetary release and bail setting.

The full report can also be found over on the John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety website.