Failure of bail elimination in New York: crime rises

Although the reform did not succeed in the imperial state, other states such as Illinois want to apply the same measure.

Bail is one of the pillars of legal procedure. It consists of a cash guarantee given by the defendant, which automatically releases him from pre-trial detention. In this way, the accused does not have to be in prison, and the judicial system has a guarantee that he or she will come to court when required.

But part of society is critical of the bond. From the left, it is said that it burdens the poor too much, who cannot afford to pay the bonds. So bail creates a dual judicial system: one for those who can afford to get out of jail on bail, and another for those who cannot.

Reform in New York

The State of New York sought to remedy this situation by eliminating bail. But in doing so, it has also eliminated some of the positive effects of the courts continuing to require such a cash guarantee to release the defendant from pre-trial detention. According to an article from City Journal, the elimination of bail has increased crime in the state.

The author of the article begins by pointing out that new data have become available that allow us to begin to appreciate the effects of the elimination of the bond. Next, Charles Fain Lehman analyzes the data and finds that "new arrests increased after bail reform." This increase is "on the order of 3 to 5 percentage points," but this analysis underestimates recidivism in arrests, so the increase in crime could be higher.

Another finding is that "recidivism rates for released offenders before bail reform used to hover between 17% and 18%," but that "at that time, re-arrest rates settled at around 20% to 21%, or 3 to 4 percentage points higher than before bail reform." However, if we assume that the foreseeable 2021 rates would have converged with 2020 rates, "then we can expect a lasting increase of between 5 and 9 percentage points in recidivism within regions."

Increase in arrests for violent crimes

Charles Fain Lehman believes that "perhaps the increase in crime noted above will be offset by a reduction in future crime, given the long-term criminogenic effects of prison," but acknowledges that "some detainees are career criminals for whom the benefits of keeping them behind bars almost certainly outweigh the criminogenic costs; others are not".

William J. Bratton and Rafael A. Mengual, in The Wall Street Journal, have reached the same conclusion:

According to data released by the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, 19.5% of total arrests and 20.2% of violent crime arrests were of suspects with open cases in 2019. New York's bail reform went into effect the following year, and those rates shot up to 24.4% and 25.1%, respectively. Violent crime in many of the city's districts also increased dramatically.

The case of Illinois

A part of public opinion, and even of the Democratic Party, is not in favor of reform. The Mayor of New York has called for its elimination, so far to no avail.

The New York State case is highly relevant, because the elimination of bail is one of the Progressives' flagship crime-fighting measures. The state of
 is going to adopt this measure, even though 100 of the state's 102 prosecutors oppose it.