State report finds bail reform laws have little impact on rearrest rates

State report finds bail reform laws have little impact on rearrest rates
A state report showed that rearrest rates have not been significantly impacted by bail reform laws. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

New York’s bail reform laws, enacted at the beginning of 2020, have not resulted in significant changes in rearrest rates, according to a new report from the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services.

Statistics showed that outside of New York City, rearrest rates in 2019 were 16%, followed by 23% in 2020 and 21% in 2021. The city’s 2019 rearrest rate was 19%, followed by 22% in 2020 and 20% in 2021, according to the statistics.

Additionally, roughly 80% of suspects who were arrested throughout the state over the three-year analysis were not rearrested within six months of their initial arrest. Out of the more than 147,000 releases throughout the state, outside of New York City criminal courts, nearly 29,000 individuals, or roughly 19% were rearrested, according to statistics.

Roughly 12% of the rearrests were those who committed violent felonies, with more than 35% identified as individuals who committed non-violent felonies and 52% as people who committed misdemeanors, statistics showed.

Local officials have claimed that the laws, aside from allowing criminals to conduct repeat crimes throughout Nassau County, have resulted in many individuals skipping their court dates. Statistics showed that, outside of New York City, only 17% of more than 61,000  individuals failed to appear to court in 2019, with that percentage increasing to 18% two years later.

The statistics also showed an overall decrease in total arraignments throughout the state since 2019. In New York City, more than 97,286 arraignments were reported in 2019, with that figure decreasing to 57,160 during the first three quarters of 2021. Throughout the rest of the state, a total of 61,587 arraignments were reported in 2019, with that number decreasing to 38,176 during the first nine months of 2021, according to statistics.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said earlier this year that there is a “state of lawlessness” throughout New York and it has resulted in repeat offenders coming back to Nassau County to commit crimes.

“We have to get serious about changing the laws so that we don’t give criminals more rights than victims,” Blakeman said. “Unfortunately, that’s the way it is now. We’ve got people committing crime after crime and judges are not given the discretion whether or not to hold these people and I think it’s a huge mistake.”

While judges throughout New York have the option to set bail in almost any case involving a violent felony, they may also release individuals in almost all other cases on their own recognizance or enact certain terms to make sure they ultimately return to court.

Blakeman signed an executive order in January shortly after taking office that cites a need to  “increase transparency by disclosing in daily reports the pending criminal case data and bail status of those rearrested” by the Police Department.”

An analysis of Nassau County crime statistics for the past five years conducted by Blank Slate Media shows a decrease of more than 10% in major crimes from 2017-2021 but an increase of more than 16% increase in violent crimes.

Statistics that were reported by the Nassau County Police Department to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services show that a total of 14,039 major crimes were committed throughout the county in 2017, compared to 12,535 in 2021.

The list of major crimes included in the report were murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft.

The biggest year-to-year decrease in major crime during the five-year analysis was from 2019 to 2020 with a drop of nearly 9% – from 13,387 to 12,244  -during the pandemic-riddled year, according to the statistics.

Major crimes, overall, increased less than 3% in 2021 from 12,244 in 2020. Violent crime increased 5% from 1,826 to 1,917 during this period and property crimes increased less than 2%.

The crime report appears to contradict claims that reforms to New York’s bail reform laws had led to an increase in crime, which was a central part of Republicans’ successful countywide campaigns in November 2021.

New York implemented bail reform laws in January 2020, with modifications being passed in April that same year. State officials said the modified laws eliminated pretrial detention and optional cash bail in an estimated 90 percent of cases.

Nassau County spends $1,148 per capita on police and fire protection while the national median is $359, according to a U.S. News & World Report finding in 2020 that named Nassau County the safest community in America. Public safety professionals account for 1.26% of the county’s population, compared with the national median of 0.70%.

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