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NYC Data Challenge Notion That Bail Reform Causes More Violence

As a part of his public safety strategy, New York Mayor Eric Adams urged state officials to reconsider parts of a January 2020 bail reform law, arguing along with city’s police leaders that it played a role in the shooting surge that began that year and stretched into 2021, The Trace reports. That link has been challenged by the NYPD’s own data, with a 2020 analysis by the New York Post finding that of the 11,000 inmates released from the Rikers Island jail before July that year, just one person was subsequently charged in a shooting.


John Pfaff, a Fordham University criminologist, crunched the New York City Criminal Justice Agency’s pretrial release figures and found a similar trend. Since the start of the early-pandemic bail reform era through nearly the end of last year, about one percent of people who were on pretrial release for a violent crime were rearrested for another violent crime, while those on pretrial release for all crimes were rearrested for a violent crime in 0.6 percent of cases. Those numbers mean “almost no change” relative to pre-reform rates, Pfaff said. Although the total number of individuals rearrested for violence rose, the numbers suggest the city would need to keep about 100 people in jail to prevent a single rearrest for violence, “with all the human cost that entails,” he concluded.

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