Across the country, attacks on pretrial justice reforms have been fueled by misinformation and false narratives. A closer look at the data tells a very different story, one where the presumption of innocence has been restored and thousands have gained pretrial freedom while keeping communities safe.
In 2017, Cook County Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans issued General Order 18.8a which required judges to only set monetary bonds in an amount that people could afford. This reform allowed thousands more people accused of crimes to await trial in their communities. Cook County saw no corresponding increases in pretrial rearrests among people awaiting trial charges including allegations of violence. Though often publicly conflated, this 2017 order is separate from the Pretrial Fairness Act, passed in 2021, which has been only partially implemented and the effects of which have yet to be seen.
++Decrease in Rearrests on Charges of Violence
Bond reform led to a decrease in the percent of people rearrested on charges involving allegations of violence. (JFA Institute)
++No Effect on Violent Crime
General Order 18.8A had no effect on the odds of new violent criminal activity of defendants released pretrial. (Loyola University)
++No change in new criminal cases involving violence for people released pretrial
Only 3% of people released after General Order 18.8A had a new criminal case involving allegations of violence filed-the same percentage as before General Order 18.8A. (Loyola University)
++Extremely low percentage of people on electronic monitoring rearrested on felony charge
Between 2016-2020, less than 4% of people on electronic monitoring in Cook County were re-arrested on a felony charge. (Chicago Appleseed)
In 2017, New Jersey dramatically reduced its use of money bail and mandated that any money bails set be affordable. Now, instead of a wealth-based system, a judge must find by clear and convincing evidence that no set of pretrial release conditions could assure the safety of the public or ensure the defendant’s appearance in court before ordering someone detained pretrial.
++Decrease in overall crime
In the years following bail reform, overall crime rates decreased, continuing a long-term trend. Comparing 2018 to 2016, rates of homicides, rapes, robberies, assaults, burglaries and thefts all fell by double digit percentages. (WNYC)
++No increase in percentage of people released pretrial who were arrested for new crimes
The percentage of people arrested for new crimes stayed virtually the same after bail reform as before: that rate was 12.7% in 2014, and 13.7% in 2017. (NJ Courts)
++Extremely low rates of arrest for people released pretrial for serious crimes
Only 0.4% of people released pretrial in 2018 were charged with a serious violent crime while released pretrial. (NJ Courts)
++High rates of appearance in court
90% of people released pretrial in 2018 appeared for their court dates. (NJ Courts)
Washington DC eliminated virtually all money bail in 1992 and has been operating a non-monetary system for 30 years. Most accused people (85%) are released immediately after arrest; other accused people (15%) can be detained for a period of not more than five days upon arrest and are then entitled to a hearing on whether conditions of release exist that would reasonably assure their appearance in court and public safety.
++Low rates of long-term pretrial jailing
Washington DC jails only about 6% of people who move through its pretrial system for more than 5 days. (Pretrial Services Agency)
++High rates of court appearance
91% of people released pretrial in DC appeared for their court dates in 2020. (Pretrial Services Agency)
++Low rates of re-arrest
88% of people released pretrial in 2020 were not re-arrested for any crime. (Pretrial Services Agency)
++Low revocation rate
85% of people released pretrial remained released through the resolution of their case without any re-arrest or revocation for technical violations. (Pretrial Services Agency)
In 2017, New Mexico adopted a constitutional amendment that ended the use of unaffordable money bail and created a detention system based on risk to “the safety any other person or the community” for felonies. This replaced a system that relied on fixed bond schedules for various charges, which were set regardless of a person’s ability to pay and engendered reliance on for-profit bail bonds companies.
++Continued fall in crime rates after bail reform
Crime rates throughout New Mexico continued to fall throughout 2017 and 2018 after reforms went into effect in 2016. (New Mexico Legislature)
++High court appearance rates
A study found that 82% of all people released pretrial in 2019 appeared for all their court dates. (New Mexico Courts)
++Low re-arrest rate
A study found that 83% of all people released in 2019 were not re-arrested for any crime while their cases were pending. (New Mexico Courts)
++Very low re-arrest rate for serious crimes
Only 1% of people released pretrial in 2019 were re-arrested for serious violent crimes (the highest level of felony: murder, rape, armed robbery, kidnapping, arson). Most re-arrests were for non-serious charges: 52% for the lowest level of felony and 33% for misdemeanors and petty offenses. (New Mexico Courts)
Since the passage of historic bail reform in 2019, nearly 200,000 more New Yorkers have been free to fight their case while presumed innocent. Home with their families. In their jobs. Going to school. With a roof over their heads. Just like the wealthy. New York taxpayers have saved hundreds of millions. And the data is clear: Bail reform has led to no increase in crime.
++Hundreds of thousands free pretrial.
183,000 people have been spared any chance of the trauma, destabilization, and deadly conditions of pre-trial incarceration. (NYCourts.gov)
++Extremely low rates of rearrests for violent felonies.
Over 97% of those released were NOT rearrested for a violent felony. (NY Criminal Justice Agency)
++A tiny percentage of people released pretrial were rearrested on gun charges.
99% of people released to fight their case while free were NOT rearrested for a charge involving a gun. (NY Criminal Justice Agency)
++Major taxpayer dollars saved.
$658 million taxpayer dollars were saved annually that can support community investments, not punishment. (Vera Institute of Justice)