We design and implement bail reform strategies to reduce the use of jail and increase the fairness of the justice system.
On any given day, people who haven’t been found guilty of any crime are detained across the U.S. because of an inability to post bail. This imposes enormous costs: for taxpayers, for detainees and their families, and for their communities.
The Center for Court Innovation works to promote bail reform in a number of ways. We operate supervised release programs that provide pretrial supervision and voluntary social services as an alternative to detention. We design and evaluate risk assessment tools and advocate for the careful and ethical expansion of their use to improve pretrial decision-making. We produce comprehensive recommendations for simplifying New York City’s bail payment process. And we provide research and strategic support to the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform which put reducing pretrial detention at the center of its recommendations for safely reducing the city’s jail population and closing the Rikers Island jail facility.
For additional details on how bail is a financial burden for those with limited means, see our Fines and Fees resource page.
Bronx Community Solutions
Bronx Community Solutions applies a problem-solving approach to cases in the Bronx centralized criminal court, providing judges with community-based alternatives to jail and fines.
Brooklyn Justice Initiatives
Brooklyn Justice Initiatives seeks to improve how the centralized criminal court in Brooklyn responds to misdemeanor and felony cases.
MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge
The MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge seeks to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails.
Price of Justice Initiative
The Price of Justice Initiative helps jurisdictions address the disparate impact of fines and fees on defendants who cannot afford them.
Rethinking Rikers Island
By providing support to the Independent Commission on Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, we're aiding in the effort to reduce New York City’s jail population and close Rikers Island.
Staten Island Justice Center
The Staten Island Justice Center seeks to reduce crime and incarceration by providing court-involved participants with supportive services and by engaging the community in prevention prog
Supervised Release Program
The Supervised Release Program reduces the number of people held in jail simply because they cannot afford bail.
Drawing on a case study of more than 175,000 defendants in New York City, this report concludes concerns over risk assessments perpetuating racial disparities in pretrial decisions are real. However, at least in the New York City example, it finds a more targeted use of risk assessments could both significantly reduce pretrial detention and alleviate racial disparities. But realizing that potential requires jurisdictions to think "beyond the algorithm"—what do they want to use a risk assessment for?
In January 2020, New York State put into effect sweeping criminal justice legislation, strictly curtailing the use of cash bail and pretrial detention, overhauling rules governing the sharing of evidence, and strengthening measures to ensure a defendant's right to a speedy trial. Our analysis of the potential implications of the reforms to bail finds they can be expected to significantly reduce the use of incarceration in the state. (See here for our updated analysis of the April 2020 amendments to the legislation.)
Written by Greg Berman, director of the Center for Court Innovation, and Julian Adler, director of policy and research, Start Here from the New Press offers a road map of concrete actions to reduce the number of people sent to jail and prison, highlighting key lessons from successful programs across the country.
When New York's bail reform took effect in January, it meant people wouldn't be behind bars because they couldn't afford their freedom. Some judges are skirting the intent of that law by setting alternative forms of bail, like partially secured bonds (PSB), at significantly higher rates. Our Krystal Rodriguez explains the intent behind PSBs.
The pretrial jail population in New York City has increased by nearly 16 percent since July, when the state amended a previously passed bail reform measure, reports the Hill. The article cites our study, which predicted the same percentage increase and found that under the amended law, 84 percent of total cases remain ineligible for bail.
Michael Rempel, director of jail reform at the Center, say it is far too early to draw any hard conclusions on how the new laws have affected New York, given that the policy has been in effect less than a year, and that COVID-19 has created "a series of confusing dynamics" within the criminal justice system that make it even tougher to study.