Study Shows NY’s Bail Reform Increased Pretrial Release, Didn’t Lower Bail Amounts Overall in Justice Courts 

By Cheyenne Galloway 

NEW YORK, NY – Under New York’s new bail reform, there has been increased pretrial release although there appears to be little attempt to mitigate bail amounts, according to a study (see website) made public recently by Data Collaborative for Justice at John Jay College organization of New York’s under examined Town and Village Justice Courts.

DCJ, which has been examining New York bail reform since its inception in 2019, using information on the city as well as the 64 District and City Courts within the state. This report was authored by DJC partner, The John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety.

New York’s groundbreaking 2019 bail reforms aimed to curtail pretrial detention, diminish the role of finances in release decisions, and tackle racial disparities in pretrial outcomes.

This study, claimed DCJ, is the “first to examine pretrial decision-making in New York’s under-examined Town & Village Justice Courts, addressing a knowledge gap in public understanding and serving as a companion to related research on the topic.”

And, explained DCJ, New York elicited these reforms to handle racial disparities in pretrial outcomes, the impact of pretrial detention, how to lessen its effects, and how to diminish the use of bail when releasing individuals.

For New York’s Justice Courts, revealed the study, there was an increase in pretrial release, a “higher percentage of Justice Court cases released without bail for misdemeanors (82 percent in 2018 vs. 93 percent in 2021) and nonviolent felonies (59 percent in 2018 vs. 71 percent in 2021).”

And, CDJ said release rates were found to disregard racial disparities; throughout the study period, as differing racial and ethnic groups received similar release rates.

Nonetheless, the study conducted by the Data Collaborative for Justice found that there were no real efforts toward affordable bail amounts.

The study also found Justice Courts discharged individuals at a higher rate than City Courts, which rang true before and after New York’s bail reform.

The study states, “By 2021, less than seven percent of people charged with misdemeanors were detained in the Justice Courts compared to 11 percent in urban City Courts and 13 percent in small City Courts from the same counties.”

The DCJ statement noted that “after bail reform went into effect, Justice Courts released people at higher rates than City Courts located in the same counties, countering a widely held impression that Justice Courts provide less fairness for justice-involved people…there was no change in police officers’ rate of issuing desk appearance tickets in Justice Court-bound cases.”

About The Author

Cheyenne Galloway recently graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a double major in Political Science and Italian Studies. Graduating at the top of her class and achieving the distinction Laurea cum laude in her Italian Studies major, she showcases her enthusiasm for knowledge, finding ways to think critically and creatively. She is particularly interested in writing and reporting on social justice and human rights, but as a writing/reporting generalist, she enjoys researching and communicating various topics through written expression.

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