A college study concludes that low-level offenders released under New York’s bail reform law are less likely to return to jail.
The 2020 reform eliminated a judge’s ability to set bail for low-level crimes. The study found this actually reduced the likelihood the offender would be re-arrested, the nonprofit Gothamist reported.
The re-arrest rate under the reforms was 44% compared to 50% previously, according to the study by John Jay College.
“Fundamentally, we found that eliminating bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies reduced recidivism in New York City, while there was no clear effect in either direction for cases remaining bail eligible,” said Michael Rempel, director of John Jay College’s Data Collaborative for Justice.
The study did not explore the reasons supporting the comparative lack of recidivism for those released without bail. Experts claim short incarceration can lead to job loss, housing loss, family disruption, and the possible motivation for further criminal activity, reported the article.
The controversial bail reform measures passed in 2019 and 2020 were intended to reduce incarceration and eliminate detaining people simply because they cannot afford bail.
Since the laws went into effect, critics say the change caused spikes in crime, such as shootings and burglaries. The current study is the first data countering that claim, the story noted.
Violent felonies, sex offenses, and certain domestic cases are not eligible for mandatory no-bail release. Those deemed a flight risk and certain repeat offenders could also be ordered held by a judge, reported by the story.
“Our goal with the study was to substantially upgrade the creditability of information known to New Yorkers about bail reform and recidivism,” said Rempel.