The Criminal Justice Reform Act Evaluation: Post Implementation Changes in Summons Issuance and Outcomes

The Criminal Justice Reform Act (CJRA) allows police officers to issue a civil summons rather than a criminal court summons for five offenses: (1) public consumption of alcohol, (2) public urination, (3) littering, (4) unreasonable noise, and (5) NYC Park Rules offenses.  By moving enforcement of many of these offenses out of the criminal courts, policymakers sought to support more proportionate responses to these lower-level, non-violent offenses. CJRA was also intended to reduce the number of warrants issued for New Yorkers who failed to appear for a criminal summons, thereby reducing collateral consequences.  DCJ produced this report as part of an evaluation of CJRA that was funded by the NYC Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.

Key Findings:

  • Six-months post-implementation, there continues to be a decline in the issuance of summonses for the five CJRA behaviors. When issued, the vast majority (89%) of summonses for these five behaviors were issued as a civil rather than a criminal summons.
  • Between June 13 and December 31, 2017, the most frequent disposition for civil summonses was paid without a hearing (38%) while the most frequent disposition for criminal summonses was dismissed (35%).
  • Due to failure to appear, half of all civil summonses (51%) defaulted and nearly half of all criminal summonses (49%) resulted in the issuance of a warrant in the six months post-CJRA implementation.
  • From June 13 to December 31, 2017, there was also a 92% decline in the number of warrants issued for criminal summonses for these five behaviors relative to the same time period in 2016.