How CourtStat Has Cut NYC Arrest-To-Arraignment Times Sharply


For two decades, New York City courts have struggled to solve the vexing problem of reducing the arrest-to-arraignment time, says the New York Times. People arrested would typically spend a full day and night behind bars before making a court appearance, even for minor infractions that typically resulted in little or no bail. In the last year and a half, the city has made remarkable strides. For the first time since 2001, the average time it takes to bring a defendant before a judge for arraignment fell last year to below 24 hours in all five boroughs. The 24-hour benchmark was set by the state's highest court in 1991, but it proved mostly elusive, especially in the Bronx and Brooklyn.

The solution can be traced to a computer-tracking initiative spearheaded by Judge George Grasso, a former deputy police commissioner put in charge of arraignment courts in 2012 — and the discovery of unused scanners that were bought to track case files. Grasso's inspiration was CompStat, the crime-tracking system introduced in the 1990s during William Bratton's first stint as police commissioner. CompStat was credited with helping drive crime numbers down by using computers to pinpoint high-crime areas. “It popped into my head,” Grasso said. “I said, 'Wow, we could turn our arraignment parts into mini CompStat sessions.’ ” Now judges, clerks, police officers, defense lawyers and prosecutors have computer screens tracking cases going through arraignment courts, from the time the police and prosecutors bring the complaint to the time the defendant is standing in front of a judge. The system, CourtStat, went into operation citywide last year, and arrest-to-arraignment times dropped sharply.

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