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Confusion continues around bail reform data: Understanding how ‘qualifying offenses’ play a role

Why was bail reform data posted by New York State pulled earlier this week? What does it mean for the effectiveness of criminal justice reform?

State officials told The Albany Times Union that it was an error in the data being ‘too inclusive’. The state elaborated on that error, noting that it included data on individuals who were further through the court system than originally intended.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

Bail reform data has been under scrutiny for the last several weeks, as law enforcement advocates say the changes enacted through bail reform only effected a small number of those who were re-arrested.

The data was updated hours after being taken down from the state website, at an apparently lower rate.

Republican lawmakers have been calling for bail reform to be modified, as it stands, citing an uptick in violent crime across the state.

However, data shows that a small percentage of people who qualify for a bailable offense commit a second crime.

That differs significantly from those who commit misdemeanor or lower offenses, law enforcement advocates say.

While there has been a lot of attention on ‘bail reform’ as a concept, when New York State changed the rules around ‘qualifying offenses’ it meant that most crimes that make-up day-to-day arrests were not even bail eligible.

They contend that a vast majority of people who are re-arrested are arrested after they have been released on their own recognizance. That’s what happens to those who are arrested on misdemeanor charges related to a domestic incident, for example.

The takeaway: Those who face criminal charges in New York State are effectively in two separate groups. When people think about ‘bail reform’ in New York- and the impact it’s had on law enforcement- they are really seeing the realities of two very different things.