Average Bail for Pretrial Detainees in NYC Doubled to $16,800, Report Finds

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The average cash bail set for pretrial admissions in New York City has doubled from $7,800 to $16,800 in the past 15 years, and the pretrial length of stay has increased significantly from 2000 to 2015—even as the admissions for pretrial detention decreased by almost half, according to a new study on pretrial detentions in New York City.

The report, released today by the Misdemeanor Justice Project (MJP) at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said the average time in detention has gone from 40 to 55 days.  

The study also indicates a dramatic change in the criminal profile of detainees over the 15 year period.  While the number of those detained on drug felony charges dropped, violent crime charges increased, representing the highest crime category by 2015.

John Jay President Jeremy Travis and Professor Preeti Chauhan presented key findings of the study this morning at a forum co-sponsored by the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City.

“Understanding trends in custody is complex and impacted by the characteristics of those coming through the front door of corrections,” said Professor Chauhan.  “In this report, we examine trends in bail amount, length of stay and discharge status by charge level and category, demographics and borough, and seek to provide background information about how the pretrial admissions population has changed over time.

“We hope this report adds to a better understanding of those detained pretrial in New York City; an understudied group.”

Key findings of the report include:

  1. The average pretrial length of stay increased significantly, from 40 days to 55 days. The average pretrial length of stay for felony admissions increased from 62 days to 80 days and for misdemeanor admissions from 13 days to 17 days.
  2. For pretrial admissions, the charge categories with the largest increases in pretrial length of stay were violent crimes, burglary, and weapon charges. The average pretrial length of stay for violent crimes increased from 89 days to 119 days (a 34.9 percent increase), for burglary increased from 71 to 96 days (a 35.1 percent increase), and for weapon charges increased from 40 to 72 days (a 78.4 percent increase).
  3. The average bail amount set for pretrial admissions more than doubled, from approximately $7,800 to $16,800. Average bail amounts increased for felony admissions ($12,600 to $26,000) and misdemeanor admissions ($1,500 to $2,100).
  4. For pretrial admissions, the highest proportion of discharges were for bail paid, 30.3 percent in 2000 and 35.4 percent in 2015.  Discharges for ROR, the second highest proportion of discharges, accounted for 23.3 percent in 2000 and 21.5 percent in 2015. The average length of stay for these discharge categories increased from 10 days to 14 days and 30 days to 36 days, respectively.
  5. Pretrial admissions that resulted in a transfer to state prison had the highest bail amount set and highest average length of stay. Notably, the average bail amount set this category increased from $22,560 to $74,253, an almost three-fold increase (229.1 percent); and the average length of stay increased from 170 days to 284 days, a 66.4 percent increase.

With funding by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, this is the sixth report prepared by the Misdemeanor Justice Project, a research initiative at John Jay College headed by Preeti Chauhan that includes faculty, graduate students and staff. Previous MJP reports have focused on trends in police enforcement practices and trends in corrections.

The full report is available here.

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