MDRC in the News

Media Myths, Facts, and Justice

Commentary by Melanie Skemer and Sarah Picard

The Crime Report

02/2022

Recent media coverage about New York State’s bail reform and its relationship to an uptick in crime in the five boroughs has been misleading, particularly in using newly released data to conflate bail reform with a program in New York City called supervised release…..

…..The supervised release program was explicitly designed to ensure that individuals released pretrial—many of whom in the past would have been inappropriately jailed because they couldn’t pay bail—return to court and are afforded access to social services…..

…..MDRC conducted a rigorous study of the supervised release program before bail reform and found that it decreased the use of cash bail and pretrial detention without significantly increasing missed court appearances or rearrests among participants…..

…..a pattern observed in MDRC’s evaluation of supervised release (and corroborated by past studies) is that the cases of individuals for whom bail is set tend to be resolved far more quickly than those of people granted less restrictive release conditions…..

…..Amidst a concerning rise in violent crime, those looking for easy answers have been quick to scapegoat bail reform efforts. While the violent crime rate is nowhere near the sky-high levels seen in the early 1990s, the increase is certainly troubling and needs to be addressed to make our communities safer…..

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