New York Dems Want To Roll Back Bail Reforms. Not So Fast, Says NYC Comptroller.

Bail reforms did not lead to higher crime, and in fact should be applied more uniformly, report finds.


It is no secret that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country on earth. There are myriad reasons why that number is so high, and opinions differ on what can be done about it, especially as violent crime rates have risen across the country. But despite increasing calls for states and cities to roll back reforms of cash bail, a new report by New York City's budget watchdog suggests bail leniency is having the right effect.

In 2019, Democrats in the New York legislature passed a bill that eliminated cash bail and pretrial detention for most non-violent felonies and nearly all misdemeanors. In those scenarios where a judge does still require money for bail, he or she must take into account the defendant's finances and ability to pay. The goal of the reforms was to greatly reduce the number of people stuck in jail simply because they were unable to pay to get out.

Immediately after the law took effect on January 1, 2020, opponents complained that it was already leading to higher crimes, and needed to be tweaked. In April 2020, the legislature expanded the number of offenses for which a defendant could be required to pay bail. That summer, after violent crime spiked in New York City, NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea blamed the bail reform law, as well as the compassionate release of some inmates due to COVID-19, for the crime uptick. Now Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul is privately pushing to expand the number of crimes eligible for bail, effectively reversing parts of the bail reform law.

But in a report out this week, New York City Comptroller Brad Lander determined that not only did the bail reforms work, but the city and state should prioritize "strengthening [their] implementation."

The report looked at data between the years 2019 and 2021. Overall, the number of people subject to bail was significantly lower, with both the bail reforms and the suspension of hearings due to the COVID-19 pandemic contributing to lower jail populations. Rather than leading to an explosion of offenders getting out and re-offending, the rate of people released on bail who were rearrested before trial "remained nearly identical" to the level prior to the law's implementation, at around five percent.

But the report also found that between 2019 and 2021, despite a sharp decrease in the number of people assigned bail, the total amount of bail money actually increased significantly. And despite the law's requirement to consider a defendant's ability to pay, the average bail amount set during that time period doubled. As a result, only half of defendants with bail set were ever able to secure release, and "even among those who do, most are incarcerated for at least some amount of time before doing so."

Ultimately, the report concludes that "further rollbacks to the bail reforms passed in 2019 would primarily serve to extract more money from vulnerable communities and increase the number of people held in City jails awaiting trial. There is no evidence that they would lead to a reduction in crime."

Cash bail is intended to ensure that a defendant returns to court for trial. But in practice, it keeps poor defendants trapped in jail while the well-to-do can pay to get out, regardless of the seriousness of either person's crime. There are other methods a court can use to guarantee a defendant's return, especially if he is unlikely to reoffend. The data is clear: When applied as written, New York City's bail reforms are working, and it would be a mistake to weaken them now.

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  2. Cannot figure out if something happened to possibly reduce people being out and about in NYC in 2020 and 2021 that might skew numbers lower.

    Also, you will have a lower recidivism rate if people just do not get punished at all regardless.

    1. Now imagine you stopped reporting that crime took place at all.

  3. So, a program that had no noticeable impact on recidivism managed to increase court gains by more than doubling bail demands?

    Of course they want to expand it. And because Reason is a cherry picker's rag, let's look deeper.

    Quick hits:

    > Covid main instigator of jail population decrease. Almost 30% were released.
    > NYC has a long running habit of pretrial detentions. 70% of those in jail have not yet been charged, even now. Most charges stem from automotive misdemeanors or paperwork.
    > Bail reform markedly increased racial disparity. The ratio of blacks to white likelihood to be incarcerated went from 5.4x more likely to 6.3x.

    1. Reason wears its bias on its sleeve for all to see; give them credit for that, at least.

  4. If you wish to see how eel bail reform works just go through a few pages of this report: Then tell me just how well bail reform works.

    It may be time to reinstate three strikes and you're out.
    And for some prosecutors like Kim Foxx of Chicago along with that despicable Kim Gardner, both of whom are Soros bought and paid for whores, allow dangerous felons back onto the street at the same time as in Gardner's case deciding to persecute the McCloskeys for defending their home is beyond the pale.
    These prosecutors and others such as Chesa Boudin and Gascon of L.A. need to be removed ASAP and bring in people who will restore some sanity.
    It's not going to happen as long as violent, vicious felons are allowed back onto the streets by these corrupt prosecutors to commit more mayhem and murder.

  5. The purpose of bail is to ensure a person appears in court.

    Historically Judges have always had the power to keep dangerous defendants in custody while bail/bond was used as an incentive for non-dangerous defendants not to skip out on court. Defendants weren't here in pretrial custody has punishment, but because a Judge believed the person was either a danger to the community or had no reason to appear on the scheduled court date.

    This report only talks about those arrested or not arrested after pretrial release. There is nothing there regarding the percentage of those released who subsequently appeared at their scheduled hearings; I suspect there is a very high percentage of no-shows.

    Without that information this report is pointless.

    1. Exactly. The one statistic that matters is never in these articles. Lots of time wasted in the courts and for law enforcement chasing down people that do not appear. Chances are cops make little effort because re-booking someone who failed to appear, only to release them immediately with no bail is pointless.

    2. Excellent point

  6. What kind of drivel is this article?

    Daily News on March 5, 2020 reports that 482 felons released without bail were re-arrested for 846 crimes.
    So, multiple repeat crimes per felon.
    These are only ordinary criminals

    Hate crimes like the poop attack by Frank Abrowa, we’re followed after his release on no bail by throwing a dumbbell thru a window.
    Tiffany Harris slapped a Jew and then immediately did it again on no bail release.

    No bail is a huge failure

    1. "Tiffany Harris slapped a Jew and then immediately did it again on no bail release."

      What an odd sentence. Totally true, according to a simple Google search, so I'm not criticizing you, doc, just... What a strange world we live in

  7. It's a damned shame that "the land of the free" has a higher incarceration rate than Russia and China. I genuinely don't know if bail reform is part of the solution--haven't made up my mind--but the best we can hope for us that maybe countries like Iran and North Korea are worse and simply un/under-reported, and that speaks hell for the vision that this nation was supposed to live up to.

    Side note--"innocent until proven guilty" is a ****ing lie; the process is a punishment all by itself.

    1. You don't get arrested in China or Russia, you just disappear. I'm sure their published statistics are low.

  8. If you think this article makes sense, you probably believe there is a correlation between people who drank milk as a child and later became addicted to heroin. Maybe it should be expanded, (doubtful if you look at all the facts) but cherry picking statistics doesn't prove anything, one way or the other. Does this site have any editorial control? This article would never be permitted in a high school newspaper.

  9. Who are you going to believe? An activist who hates people or your lying eyes as you watch another Asian be attacked?

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