MDRC in the News

Cops Are Making Fewer Arrests Since N.J. Got Rid of Cash Bail

The Star-Ledger

11/2019

New Jersey’s history-making and controversial move away from a cash bail system was expected to lead to fewer people sitting behind bars because they couldn’t afford to pay their way out while awaiting trial.

But a new study released Thursday shows the overhaul led to a major shift in the state’s justice system, with fewer people being arrested for low-level crimes, jail populations that plummeted even more than expected and an increase in defendants set free without conditions such as ankle-bracelet monitoring.

At the same time, state and federal data show a continued decline in crime in New Jersey.

The findings come as court systems around the country consider similar reforms, part of a national movement away from cash bail.

“Many jurisdictions are not going this far,” said Cindy Redcross, one of the lead authors of the study, which was funded by Arnold Ventures, the creator of the risk-assessment tool New Jersey courts use instead of relying on cash bail.

“They’re making small tweaks because they’re afraid of what could happen if they eliminate bail,” said Redcross, the director of the MDRC Center for Criminal Justice Research. “So it’s important that Jersey is doing it and the world hasn’t stopped….”

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