Two years ago, New York joined a growing number of states scaling back the use of cash bail for criminal defendants. Ever since, critics have warned that the change would lead to dangerous people being released to commit more crimes. While far more people are being diverted from jail while awaiting trial, the percentage who get re-arrested for new offenses remained virtually unchanged after the reforms took effect, found an analysis by City Comptroller Brad Lander. In most months, it is still about four percent, the Associated Press reports. The report’s release comes as some officials have considered rolling back bail reforms, which were enacted as part of an effort to address the inequity of poor people being jailed because they couldn’t afford bail, while wealthier people accused of the same crimes went free.
Both before and after the reforms, only a small fraction of people released while awaiting trial — less than one percent — were re-arrested for violent felonies. New York was among the first states to eliminate bail and detention for most nonviolent crimes, after a half-dozen states, including New Jersey and Nebraska, that passed laws establishing a presumption of release and nonmonetary bail. The changes kicked in months before the coronavirus pandemic led to widespread shutdowns, which were followed in some places by an increase in shootings. Lately, a number of headline-grabbing violent crimes in New York City have given momentum to bail reform critics. In recent days, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration has circulated a draft plan that would make more crimes eligible for detention and give judges broader latitude in setting bail.