Bail Reform

July 10, 2020

For the last six and a half years, the NYPD has transformed how it polices through precision policing and Neighborhood Policing.

By continuing to focus on the small numbers of individuals who are perpetrating most of the crime, we are best able to protect the public.

Over these years, the NYPD has led in embracing critical reforms to the criminal justice system. Yet meaningful change must be balanced carefully.

This is not a comprehensive analysis of all the factors contributing to the increase in violence that we are now experiencing.

It is a vigorous examination of the data around those no longer bail eligible and their rates of rearrest — extremely important, but one piece of a far more complex set of factors confronting all of us who live and work in New York City.

  • The following analysis is related specifically to some of the impacts of bail reform, one of many factors that have contributed to the rise in index crime that started mid-year in 2019.
  • The provisions of bail reform were law on January 1st of this year. In practice, some judges and DA’s appear to have started following its provisions in the Fall of 2019.
  • Overall index crime spiked in January and did not start to fall until the middle of March when COVID-19 lockdowns started.
  • The Department has made 41,107 fewer arrests this year compared to last year (i.e. 75,866 arrests in 2020 vs 116,973 last year).

Non-Bail Eligible Felony Arrestees

  • All of the recidivism statistics are based on arrests for ‘new’ offenses that were committed after the original arrest.
  • In spite of a drop in arrests year to date, we’ve witnessed non-bail eligible felony arrestees get arrested more frequently and for more serious crimes,
  • Looking at this particular subset of people who benefit from bail reform, i.e. those who committed felonies that were no longer eligible for bail (but were in 2019), we found that:
    • 19.5% were re-arrested at least once after an initial non-bail eligible felony arrest, 1,798 of 9,227 individuals were re-arrested.
    • In 2019, 17.3% were re-arrested (2,188 of 12,640).
    • The 2020 group was re-arrested 4,207 times (2.3 arrests per arrestee) and the 2019 group was re-arrested 4,056 times (1.9 re-arrests per arrestee).
    • 34.5% of the 2020 re-arrests were 7 majors crimes.
    • 16.8% of the 2019 re-arrests were 7 majors crimes.
    • That is, 2020 recidivism resulted in 1,452 7 majors arrests vs 681 in 2019, resulting in 771 more arrests for 7 majors offenses.
    • This is against a backdrop of 41,107 fewer arrests or a drop of 35.1% YTD in a 7 month period.
  • Looking specifically at burglaries, we found that 26% of people arrested for burglary in 2020 were re-arrested within 30 days for an offense committed after their initial arrest ( vs 10% in 2019).

Focus on Robbery and Burglary Arrestees

  • Looking specifically at the robbery and burglary arrests that benefit from bail reform provisions, we find:
  • In 2020, 580 of the 2,417 (24%) unique people arrested for these charges were re-arrested. In 2019, 292 of 1,444 (20.2%) were re-arrested:
    • This subset of non-bail eligible arrestees generated 954 more arrests in 2020 than in 2019 (i.e. 1,560 in 2020 vs. 606 in 2019).
  • 44.1% of the 2020 re-arrests were for 7 majors. In 2019, 26.4% of the re-arrests were for 7 majors.
    • This subset of non-bail eligible arrestees generated 528 more 7 majors arrests in 2020 than in 2019 (i.e. 688 in 2020 vs. 160 in 2019).
  • This group of arrestees were re-arrested more frequently and for more serious offenses than in previous years.

Bail Eligible Felony Arrests

  • In 2020, bail was set in 20.8% of bail-eligible arrests vs. 30% in 2019.
  • Even when bail is set, the court must select “the least restrictive alternative and condition or condition that will reasonably assure the principal’s return to court.” Also, judges must now explicitly consider the individual’s ability to pay bail without undue hardship.
  • There were fewer of these arrests in 2020, 9,802 vs 12,060 (excluding declined prosecutions).
  • In 2020, 14% were re-arrested. In 2019, 15.6% were re-arrested.
  • The 2020 group was arrested slightly more frequently 1.9 arrests per re-arrestee vs 1.7 arrests per arrestee from 2019.
  • 21.8% of the re-arrests in 2020 were for index crimes and 15.4% of the re-arrests in 2019 were for index crimes (562 arrests in 2020 vs 500 in 2019).

DAT Arrests

  • Bail reform expanded Desk Appearance Ticket criteria where arrestees are released pre-arraignment from the station house,
  • Looking at those who received DAT’s in 2020:
    • 14.2% have been re-arrests at least once since their DAT vs 9.9% in 2019. (2,314 re-arrestees vs 1,482 re-arrestees in 2019.)
    • 27% of those re-arrests were for 7 majors vs. 11.9% in 2019. (1,339 7 majors arrests vs 296 in 2019.)
  • Some of the new felony Desk Appearance Categories have higher failure to appear rates for court:
    • From January 1-April 30, 22% of Grand Larceny Auto arrestees that received a DAT failed to appear for arraignment.
    • For the same time period, 19.8% of felony drug arrestees that received a DAT failed to appear for arraignment.
    • So far this year, the Department has issued desk appearance tickets to 130 arrestees who committed Grand Larceny Auto versus none last year.


  • The new discovery provisions have had an impact on declined prosecutions and pattern arrests not covered here.