Bail reform has been a major element of the criminal justice reform movement advanced by progressive politicians, activist groups and much of the media, for at least a decade. The narrative is that reducing or eliminating bail, even for violent arrestees, is necessary to address racial bias in the criminal justice system, because a disproportionate cohort of black and Hispanic suspects are held in jail on bail awaiting trial. The fact that blacks and Hispanics commit a disproportionate amount of crime is ignored in this narrative. Toward the end of the last decade several liberal state legislatures adopted no-bail laws, and during the pandemic, several others eliminated or reduced bail via executive orders. In more than a few big cities such as Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco and New York progressive district attorneys announced their own zero bail policies. New York City had all of these elements. The state adopted a bail reform law that took effect in 2020, and both the city’s mayor and district attorney enthusiastically enforced it. In a recently-released study, Manhattan Institute scholar Jim Quinn takes a hard look at the effect that progressive bail reform has had on crime in the Big Apple.
Tracking the rate of releases, rearrests and number of crimes committed, the study notes:
For 27 years, from 1993 to early 2020, under the “old” bail laws and the “broken” criminal justice system, index crime in New York City steadily declined by nearly 76%. In just two years of the new bail laws and other progressive reforms, index crimes in New York City rose 36.6%. There are many reasons for the rise in crime, but as the analysis below will demonstrate, it is not coincidental that the sudden, massive increase in city crime came at precisely the same time as the release of 2,000 career criminals from city jails.
In early 2020, John Jay College of Criminal Law Professor Jerry Latzer warned what would happen. Was anybody listening?
Progressive criminal justice reform policies are killing innocent people. Here’s a news story about the habitual felon, released under New York’s bail reform law, who murdered a man riding the subway last April. Had the murderer been held on bail for stealing a car and his four prior felonies, the victim would still be alive.