Significantly reducing pretrial detention is an urgent policy imperative in New York City, which plans to close its notorious and inhumane jails on Rikers Island, build smaller new jails, and reduce the total number of people held in jail by more than half in the next six years. This document describes a set of strategies that New York City is adopting to address the well-documented harms of pretrial detention.
In a virtual presentation in June 2020, our leading bail reform experts discussed their new report, 'Bail Reform Revisited: The Impact of New York’s Amended Law.' With the amended law about to go into effect, they explored the impacts of the revisions and the effect outside factors—such as COVID-19 or the current protests against police violence—may have on the direction of pretrial reform in the state. The panelists also discussed ways that New York City, despite the projected increase in the jail population, can still meet its commitment to close Rikers Island by 2026.
With justice systems across the country scrambling to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a lot of talk about what justice is going to look like when the virus ends. But what has the response actually consisted of, and is there any reason to anticipate a "new normal" will emerge? On New Thinking, New York University law professor Rachel Barkow explains her skepticism.
Our analysis of the revisions passed in April 2020 to New York State’s bail reform projects they will lead to a 16 percent increase in New York City’s pretrial jail population, relative to the effects of the original law. However, even the revised statute makes an estimated 84 percent of cases ineligible for bail. The analysis also weighs factors, including the COVID-19 emergency, that could produce a culture change in pretrial decision-making—in the direction of less, or more, reliance on detention.
Jails and prisons have quickly emerged as epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic. As New York City struggled to get people out from behind bars, it turned to a trio of nonprofits to repurpose a successful program on the fly. The urgency of supporting people released abruptly from jail in the midst of a pandemic is clear, but so are the challenges. The experience also raises the question: what happens to criminal justice when the virus ends?
What’s the connection between ending bail and closing jails? Organizing, organizing, organizing. On New Thinking, the Katal Center's gabriel sayegh explains why New York's reforms to bail might be the most significant in the country, and, when it comes to New York City's notorious Rikers jail, what needs to happen to get "the last person off that island."
Effective January 2020, New York State has passed reforms sharply curtailing the use of bail. This analysis explains several important provisions intended to protect victims of domestic violence and uses data from New York City to explore the reforms' potential implications in such cases.
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?
Rachel Barkow contends criminal justice policy is a “prisoner of politics,” driven by appeals to voters’ worst instincts and an aversion to evidence of what actually works. In her new book, the NYU law professor makes a provocative case for “freeing” criminal justice from the political imperative in order to achieve real reform.
As part of a conference sponsored by the Center for Court Innovation and the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, we asked justice system leaders and experts "What has been the biggest change in the New York City criminal justice system over the last five years?"