In August of this year, New York City had 45,789 individuals awaiting disposition of their case — a vast majority of them accused of misdemeanor crimes, according to the Pretrial Release Dashboard, a new service launched Monday by the New York City Criminal Justice Agency (CJA) in partnership with the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and leading national pretrial justice consultants Luminosity, Inc.
The Pretrial Release Dashboard illuminates the fact that many people in New York are still awaiting the final disposition of their case, and are in the community as opposed to experiencing lengthy and traumatizing pretrial detention — a reflection of the city’s commitment to increasing the proportion of individuals released without monetary conditions, or cash register justice.
New York City’s commitment can also be seen in the major passage of bail reform bills from 2020 that aimed to reduce the use of pretrial detention. Since then, a heated debate has unfolded producing a binary debate about the matter.
To that end, CJA notes that “key facts about the pretrial population have been missing from this largely-data free debate.”
“The Pretrial Release Dashboard helps to underline the importance of continued investment in alternatives to pretrial detention,” says the CJA press release, specifically highlighting New York’s Supervised Release Program, which in August 2021, had 5,494 individuals under supervision – a number comparable to the 5,586 people detained in jail awaiting trial for some length of time in the same month.
As Luminosity, Inc. Director of Data Analytics Marie VanNostrand shows in her commentary, this dashboard visualization facilitates a more complete picture of the pretrial population before and after bail reform.
“For the first time, New York City can paint a complete picture of its entire pretrial population,” VanNostrand writes.
Looking at the Dashboard
The Pretrial Release Dashboard allows anyone to explore data about New Yorkers who were previously arrested, charged with an offense, and who were released into the community awaiting disposition of their case.
The dashboard creators and researchers note that a person on pretrial release is tracked by the system for a single case for a maximum of one year. To that end, the data shows all of the people who were on pretrial release in any given month.
Visitors to the dashboard can learn how many individuals on pretrial release (and what percentage of the total number of pretrial releasees) are charged with new offenses in any given month dating back to January 2019, broken down by the type of release.
The histogram itself can be viewed through the lens of most serious charges, arrest type, and release type. For the charges, the dashboard shows categories of misdemeanor offenses, non-violent felonies, violent felonies, and unknown charges. For the arrest type, data is shown as either a desk appearance ticket, an arrest summary, or a direct indictment.
All release-type information is categorized as a desk appearance ticket release, released on recognizance, supervised release, or if the individual posted bail.
“Our goal in building the dashboard is to improve the quality of the debate about pretrial justice and allow interested New Yorkers to come to their own judgements about critical issues by providing important and all too often missing context about the pretrial population,” the CJA press release details.
“The dashboard will be regularly updated with new monthly data, allowing visitors to keep track of this critical population.”
The full Pretrial Release Dashboard can be accessed here.
Andrea Cipriano is Associate Editor of The Crime Report.