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Nation’s Largest City Launches Initiative To Reduce Pre-Trial Incarceration

| July 9, 2015

In an effort to address the significant number of accused offenders waiting in jail before their trial date, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced a new program that reforms the city’s bail procedures for certain defendants.

According to MSNBC, New York, beginning in 2016, will spend about $18 million to divert 3,000 low-risk defendants to court supervision, in lieu of posting bail or being incarcerated before their trial. Such supervision includes regular in-person or text message “check-ins” from agents of the court, as well as possible behavioral or drug counseling, depending on the alleged offense.

It’s important to emphasize that this program targets lower-risk defendants for possible release, not those accused of more serious crimes, or those at a risk to re-offend upon release. Programs like these can ease jail populations and eventually save money, but the paramount concern must always be preserving the public safety.

Which is one such result of New York’s new initiative, states Right on Crime Director Marc Levin:

“Defendants who can keep their jobs because they’re not in jail will pose less of a threat to the public than those who end up unemployed.

Indeed. Beyond allowing these defendants to maintain employment opportunities while they await adjudication, diverting lower-risk defendants away from jail populations that also harbor more serious offenders can help prevent exposing them to a culture of criminality often found in such populations. Mixing the two together, in a perverse twist, runs the chance that the former would become a greater risk to the public later on than when they first entered the system. For obvious reasons, this is not a preferred outcome, making programs like New York’s a sensible approach towards alleviating problems in the long run.

The entire MSNBC article can be found here.


MICHAEL HAUGEN is a policy analyst at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and its Right on Crime initiative.

His work for the Foundation has focused primarily on criminal justice reform topics, particularly civil forfeiture, prison reform and justice reinvestment, mens rea reform, occupational licensing, and various law enforcement and privacy issues. He’s also written about federal corporate subsidies, school choice, and gun rights.

Haugen is a graduate of Eastern Washington University, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with Pre-Medicine Option, and a minor in Chemistry. He also holds an Associate of Arts degree in General Studies from North Idaho College. At EWU, he participated in academic research in a molecular microbiology laboratory for two years, investigating genetic virulence factors and pathophysiology in microbes.

His writing has appeared in National Review, The Hill, Townhall, Washington Examiner, Dallas Morning News, El Paso Times, Trib Talk, RedState, Ricochet, and Breitbart Texas.