Legal system fines and fees can trap people of limited means in cycles of debt, and even incarceration, lasting for years. As we work to support efforts towards the long-term goal of decriminalizing poverty altogether, this brief gives an overview of an important near-term reform: ability-to-pay assessment tools.
What's the most effective way to reduce the chance of an arrest in the future? A new study suggests it's shrinking the size of the justice system in the here and now. Boston D.A. Rachael Rollins and the director of NYU's Public Safety Lab, Anna Harvey, talk about the benefits of not prosecuting low-level charges—an almost 60 percent reduction in recidivism—and the challenges, even with data in hand, of bucking the conventional wisdom.
One year into New York State’s sweeping restrictions to the use of bail and pretrial detention, the reform has produced sustained reductions in the reliance on both. But, at least in New York City, the reform’s impact has been significantly diminished—most notably, by an unexpected mid-year spike in bail-setting by judges.
Delays in processing criminal cases—long endemic to New York City's courts—drive up jail populations and impose harm on people detained before trial and on crime victims. A recent pilot project we implemented in Brooklyn succeeded in significantly reducing felony case delay. The project offers important lessons for New York's efforts to durably reduce its reliance on incarceration.
Amid a dramatic surge in gun violence across the country, some public officials are blaming the spike in New York City on the state's recent bail reforms. This research brief, bringing together publicly available data and research, finds no evidence to support the claim.
Josie Duffy Rice says remaking the justice system is a generational struggle, but it's one progressives are winning. The well-known criminal justice commentator and activist, and president of the news site The Appeal, explains why she believes in the power of big ideas, and offers her take on the federal election, "defund the police," and the role of the media in promoting—or thwarting—change.
New York City’s jail population dropped to a historic low following the COVID-19 outbreak on Rikers Island in March 2020. But six weeks later, the numbers began increasing again. The steady rise in admissions now threatens to wipe out the effect of the initial reductions, putting more New Yorkers at risk of contracting the virus in the high-risk conditions behind bars. Our analysis highlights the lessons of the multiple population trends from March to November.
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.
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.