New York City, NY

Summary

New York City has seen a steep decline in serious crime since the early 1990s, accompanied by a dramatic drop in the use of jail, with the average daily jail population declining 61% from 21,688 in 1991 to 8,530 in 2018. The city is continuing concerted efforts to drive down both crime and unnecessary detention even further, including the recent citywide expansion of supervised release and a bail alternative program for individuals who can be safely supervised in the community while waiting for trial. The city has also taken steps to reduce the number of people with behavioral health needs cycling through jail and expanded effective reentry planning to curb recidivism.

As an Implementation Site, New York City remains an integral part of the growing network of jurisdictions working to share knowledge and best practices and to create demand for reform across the country. To build on past reform efforts and continue safely reducing the jail population, New York City plans to institutionalize systemic changes that will increase fairness, accelerate case processing times, and more precisely calibrate the criminal justice system’s response to risk and need.

New York City has the lowest incarceration rate of any large city in the country, yet despite the city’s success in reducing the overall jail population, certain fundamental inequalities persist.

  • African Americans and Latinos make up more than half of the city’s population and yet they have comprised around 88% of the local jail population during the last five years.
  • In too many cases, inability to pay bail has become the sole reason why people are in jail. No one should be incarcerated who does not pose a risk, either to public safety or of not returning to court.
  • While the number of people in custody with behavioral health needs is falling, it is falling more slowly compared to the overall number of people in custody. Currently, 43% of the individuals in New York City jails have behavioral health needs.

The urgent question now is how to create more safety with more equality.

To build on past efforts and continue safely reducing the jail population, New York City plans to institutionalize systemic changes that will increase fairness, accelerate case processing times, reduce unnecessary detention, and more precisely calibrate the criminal justice system’s response to risk and need.

As an Implementation Site, New York City is an integral part of the growing network of jurisdictions working to share knowledge and best practices and to create demand for criminal justice reform across the country. Supported by the Challenge Network, New York City will implement forward-looking, smart solutions, to further reduce the local jail population.

More Site Profiles

Keyword Search