Bail Reform in New York: What Happens Next?


Chicago bail protest, 2019. Photo by Charles Edward Miller via Flickr

Exploring the Impact of Bail Reform on the Culture of Pretrial Incarceration in the Time of the Coronavirus:

An Interactive Zoom Webinar Series


If you’ve been following recent headlines, you know that the movement to eliminate money bail is now on the target list of “law and order” proponents in the current election cycle.

It’s already been a critical flashpoint in New York State’s debate over how fast and how deeply to reimagine our system of crime and punishment,

Reflecting that debate, in April, the Assembly passed an amendment to the landmark bail bill enacted in January that clawed back some—though not all—of the provisions eliminating cash bail for non-felony defendants.

What happens next?

The debate certainly hasn’t eased, as opponents of the original bill tie the recent spike in New York City crime rates to the amended measures. Is New York’s bail reform doomed to be the end, rather than the beginning, of what many hoped would be the unraveling of the “punishment” culture that has disproportionately filled the state’s jails and prisons with New Yorkers of color?

Are critics correct when they argue that pushing reform efforts further endangers New Yorkers at a moment of economic and social crisis?  What does the evidence so far tell us?

To explore these questions, the Center on Media, Crime and Justice (CMCJ) at John Jay College of Criminal Justice has assembled a blue-ribbon group of top players in the bail reform debate, including analysts, lawmakers, justice practitioners, and academics, to provide reporters and interested public background insights to help cut through the fog of rhetoric.

They will participate in an on-the-record “virtual” briefing consisting of two afternoon webinar sessions of about three hours each on Sept. 16 and 23. The sessions will kick off a packed program of fall and winter webinar sessions exploring key emerging issues of criminal justice during an election year.

Confirmed speakers so far include the Hon. Jonathan Lippman, former New York State Chief Judge; Krystal Rodriguez, co-author of the landmark Center for Court Innovation study, “Bail Reform Revisited”; Erie County District Attorney John Flynn; and Khalil Cumberbatch, a former incarceree who served as associate vice president of policy at the Fortune Society and is now a senior fellow at the Council on Criminal Justice.


The agenda for the Webinar Series is available here.

Click here for brief Bios of our Sept. 16  and Sept. 23 speakers and panelists.

The briefings will be open to the public, but attendees must register in advance at the link above, or by contacting CMCJ Director Steve Handelman at

New York journalists representing all platforms, as well as freelancers, are invited to apply for Reporting Fellowships as part of the program. Selected fellows will receive $250 stipends. Applicants should send a letter setting out why they would benefit from participating in the webinar, along with a brief bio to  or

Please bookmark this page for further reports and research related to the Webinar.

The CMCJ is grateful for the support of Arnold Ventures in preparing this Webinar series.


Sept. 16 PANEL 1  (abbreviated)

INTRO and WELCOME: Stephen Handelman, Center on Media, Crime and Justice

SPEAKERS: Khalil Cumberbatch, Senior Fellow, Council on Criminal JusticeAmy Jones, justice reform activist.

MODERATOR: Maurice Possley, Center on Media, Crime and Justice

Sept.16 PANEL 2 

SPEAKERS: Krystal Rodriguez, Center for Court Innovation; Insha Rahman, Vera Institute of Justice;  Sen. Michael Gianaris, Deputy Majority Leader, NY Senate;  Erica Bond, John Jay College.

MODERATOR: Amy Bach, Measures for Justice. 


Bail Reform Revisited: The Impact of New York’s Amended Bail Law on Pretrial Detention   by Michael Rempel and Krystal Rodriguez, Center on Court Innovation May, 2020

Bail Reform Revisited: Fact Sheet  (May 2020)

Take it from a DA: Don’t Roll Back Bail Reform by Jim Manfre, Albany-Times Union, Feb. 25,2020

Law Enforcement Leaders Agree: Money Bail Has to End, by Ronal Serpas and Taryn Merkel, The Appeal, April 21, 2020

Data Collaborative for Justice (website)

DCJ Research Brief: “Assessing Potential Impacts of 2020 Bail Reforms in NYC”

DCJ Research Brief: “Desk Appearance Tickets in New York State, 2018”