New York City's Pretrial Supervised Release Program An Alternative to Bail

New York Citys Pretrial Supervised Release Program Square

Overview

Policymakers and practitioners are increasingly raising concerns about the large number of people being held in jails pretrial across the US. The supervised release program (SR) in NYC is an example of a new approach to handling cases pretrial. SR gives judges the option to release some defendants who would otherwise be detained due to their inability to make bail. The City of New York has contracted with MDRC and Vera to conduct an evaluation of the program. This brief gives an overview of the program, how it operates, and initial findings based on interviews with key courtroom stakeholders and program staff. Future reports will provide comprehensive evaluation results.

Key Takeaway

Despite relatively progressive bail practices in NYC, over 75% of the jail population are pretrial detainees, most of whom are incarcerated because they cannot pay their bail. Supervised Release, started citywide in March 2016, gives judges another option to release people who would otherwise be detained because they cannot make bail.

Publication Highlights

  • Being held in jail pretrial may have consequences on employment, housing, and on the outcome of a case, as defendants are more likely to plead guilty if detained pretrial

  • Instead of setting bail on certain defendants, judges can place them in SR where they will be supervised in the community, notified of future court dates, and linked to voluntary services.

  • Demonstrated by the program’s high enrollment numbers in the first year, SR has been an overall success. Defense attorneys and prosecutors interviewed about the program shared their concerns, suggestions for improvement, and opportunities for growth.

Key Facts

Related

Jail in New York City

Evidence-Based Opportunities for Reform

Jail in New York City: Evidence-Based Opportunities for Reform examines the key decision points within New York City’s criminal justice system that drive people into the jail. The report uses rich data on case processing, pretrial decision-making, bail decisions, and case disposition to understand how decision makers can impact the size of the jail...

Publication
  • Michael Rempel, Ashmini Kerodal, Joseph Spadafore, Chris Mai
March 24, 2017
Publication

Incarceration's Front Door

The Misuse of Jails in America

Local jails exist in nearly every town and city in America. Intended to house only people deemed to be a danger to society or a flight risk, jails have become massive warehouses primarily for those too poor to post even low bail or too sick for existing community resources to help. And the burden of jail incarceration doesn’t fall on everyone equal...

Publication
  • Ram Subramanian, Ruth Delaney, Stephen Roberts, Nancy Fishman, Peggy McGarry
February 11, 2015
Publication

In Our Own Backyard

Confronting Growth and Disparities in American Jails

Although local jails are increasingly recognized as the “front door” to mass incarceration, justice system stakeholders and others historically have not had access to the necessary data to understand how their jail is being used and how it compares with others. To address this issue, Vera researchers developed a data tool that includes current and ...

Publication
  • Ram Subramanian, Christian Henrichson, Jacob Kang-Brown
December 15, 2015
Publication