Fuck The Police: Bail Reform Isn’t Leading To Increase In Crime, Despite Cops Saying Otherwise

from the the-data-on-bail-reform dept

Any shift in the balance of power away from law enforcement almost always results in law enforcement claiming we’re headed towards a criminal apocalypse. The NYPD — via union reps and police commissioners — have made these claims for years, targeting everything from “stop and frisk” reform to more recent efforts made to treat accused criminals as “innocent until proven guilty,” rather than assuming guilt to keep them locked up until their cases can be heard.

The government (at all levels) would really rather not have to prove its case in court. That involves time, (other people’s) money, and having enough damning information on hand to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s way easier to simply lock people up, threatening their lives, freedom, and livelihoods until they cave, giving prosecutors easy wins on plea deals. Plea deals are S.O.P. for our supposed justice system — something capable of converting even innocent people into convicts simply by threatening them with indefinite incarceration.

Bail reform in New York City aimed to reset this balance of power, denying prosecutors and the law enforcement agencies they serve the leverage to pressure people into accepting plea deals in exchange for their freedom. Law enforcement officials refused to recognize the reality of the situation: that bail demands create a multi-tiered justice system that allows the well-off to walk free while disproportionately punishing the poor. Local bail laws enabled the New York City law enforcement to ensure the poor and oppressed remained poorer and more oppressed.

Now that the status quo has been slightly upended, cops and their champions are advocating for a return to the oppression they’ve historically enjoyed. The war for hearts and minds has started, but the NYPD and its advocates aren’t interested in dealing with facts.

The NYPD and their unions began complaining about bail reform immediately. Robbing arrested people of their constitutionally guaranteed presumption of innocence, union officials claimed letting accused people go free was to blame for a spike in crime rates.

But this was just a bunch of bullshit. Even the exceptionally NYPD-friendly NY Post noted the stats did not jibe with NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea’s claim that the bail reforms of 2020 were responsible for crime rate increases observed in 2021.

Kudos, then, to the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, for running the numbers and shining light, not heat, on what’s actually going on. MOCJ this week published a new report showing the overwhelming majority, 97%, of the roughly 50,000 people awaiting trial monthly in 2020 haven’t been re-arrested — a trendline that existed before the bail law changed, and continued afterward. There’s one myth exploded.

Those extremely inconvenient facts have stopped New York law enforcement officials from claiming bail reform does little more than allow violent criminals to commit more violent crimes while awaiting their trials.

Fortunately, anyone anywhere in the world can fact check these bogus claims. The New York Criminal Justice Agency has been compiling stats on pretrial release. And the stats show an overwhelming majority of people on pre-trail release have not been arrested for other criminal activity.

Long-time public defender Scott Hechinger pointed out the massive disparity between law enforcement’s claims and reality on Twitter, noting that released arrestees almost never committ violent crimes while awaiting their trials.

Here’s what Hechinger’s tweet says:

For all worried—understandably based on whats in the news—about bail reform causing crime. Please see this chart. Regularly updated. NYC Criminal Justice Agency. Shows those released. The sea of light blue is all those not rearrested. The purple you can’t see: violent felonies.

Here’s the chart, compiled using New York’s own criminal justice statistics:

Clearly, the criminal apocalypse — supposedly guaranteed by allowing people accused of crimes to fully enjoy their constitutional rights — isn’t happening. The NYPD and its union reps are trying to convert a crime spike into a trend… and then somehow link that non-trend to recent bail reforms. But their own stats have sold them out. And it’s not as though they don’t have access to them. Instead, they’re hoping that if they sell enough fear, they can go back to the way things used to be: where indefinite incarceration routinely delivered easy wins for prosecutors and padded the NYPD’s conviction stats.

But information not only wants to be free, it wants to be informative. The NYPD’s decision to ignore the facts in favor of its preferred narrative says a whole lot about the agency and its union representation — none of it good.

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Comments on “Fuck The Police: Bail Reform Isn’t Leading To Increase In Crime, Despite Cops Saying Otherwise”

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Upstream (profile) says:

Correlation v Causation, again

Even if there were an increase in crime stats after long overdue bail reform laws were passed, how could it be determined if that increase was a result of the bail reforms, or maybe a result of the cop’s telling their non-cop criminal buddies that they will be looking the other way, or possibly a result of some other factor(s), like economics, politics, weather, etc?

Controlling for all the possible other causes and confounding factors can be difficult (or sometimes impossible), and typically requires much more data than that obtained from one city on one instance of a change in the law.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Police abolition would reduce crime.

…or rather would reduce wrongdoing

Officer-invoved intentional homicide (of which we probably have thousands per year) and asset forfeiture (in billions of dollars every year) come to mind at first.

Also home raids by SWAT teams and killed dogs, both, by the tens of thousands per year.

…And a lot of illegal searches, forced confessions (which should count as torture) and other miscarriages of justice would also be eliminated if we simply didn’t have a police force at all.

With rare exception, our staet administrators don’t mind so much, so all these transgressions aren’t criminal by any reasonable meaning of the word.

And law enforcement in the US may not even prevent other crime or effectively.detect the perpetrators post hoc. Our justice system is less interested in justice than they are in convictions and the warm bodies of the innocent fill up cells just as well as the bodies of the guilty. Most of the public is happy to pretend US every inmate and execution is justice served. The TV tells us so every night.

But our police aren’t there to protect and serve rather they’re a garrison by an occupying force, a fascist army occupying all of the US like Nazi Germany occupied France.

So long as they eagerly assault the impoverished and homeless and keep the rest of us glad to work long hours in toxic conditions rather than getting evictedand becoming fair game, the states will gladly continue to pay their salaries and ignore their brutality.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Wrong reforms!

We don’t need bail reforms. We need judicial reform!

Cases should be heard in hours (at best), or days (at worst).
The judicial system is broken at many levels. But for this topic, any backlog is unacceptable! Months? YEARS? Why? Congress could fix this if it wanted to. But it’s too busy chasing big tech and getting off over Trump; for or against.

Upstream (profile) says:

Re: Broken or efficient?

The judicial system is broken at many levels.

When ever the “system is broken” phrase comes to mind, we would do well to ask ourselves: “Is the system really broken? Or is it just functioning efficiently as it was designed and intended to function?”

In this case, that translates into: “Was the system meant to achieve justice, and now it is not doing that? Or was the system designed to keep minorities and other ‘undesirables’ oppressed, and now it is performing that function quite well?”

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Just why?

See, why do people make comments like this? It doesn’t help anything and has no base in reality.

Despite nonsense from both parties we have a fairly fair and balanced judiciary.

The real problem is the population continues to expand while the system does not.
We need more courts, and more districts. Staffed with qualified judges and staff.

That would accommodate more cases. Which would bring us back to quick and speedy. Which eliminates bail issues for most cases.
When accused of a crime you should be jailed, then quickly tried and based on the result incarcerated or released.

All this bail reform actually does is push to put violent people back on the streets for extended periods of time. That isn’t a good solution.

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