Bail Reform in Action: Pretrial Release Outcomes in New York State, 2019-2020

On January 1, 2020, extensive reforms to the laws governing bail and pretrial release went into effect in

New York State. These reforms restricted which charges are legally eligible for money bail and included

a presumption that judges should release people on their own recognizance (ROR; essentially, their

promise to return to court). The law permits judges to overcome this presumption and set pretrial

conditions only when determining that an individual poses a “risk of flight to avoid prosecution.” For

those cases where money bail is still permitted and a judge opts to set it, the judge must set at least

three forms of bail and consider an individual’s ability to pay before setting a bail amount (Rempel &

Rodriguez, 2019).

Amendments to the reforms, which went into effect in July 2020, moved some charges that had become

ineligible for bail in January 2020 back into the category of charges for which judges have the discretion

to set bail when a credible risk of flight is present (Rempel & Rodriguez, 2020).

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