Bail reform has been in effect in New York State since January 2020. We now have 4 years of data to look at to see what impact it has had on New York City’s crime rate. Predictably, it has not been good.

Bail reform took effect on January 1, 2020. As a result of that one bill, over 2000 career criminals were released from NYC jails, because the bill applied not only to future arrestees, but it also applied to everyone who was already being held in jail on bail. Overall, the 2000 criminals released from jail in January 2020 had an average of 11 prior arrests, 6 prior convictions, and 2 failures to appear in court. They were not, as the proponents of bail reform claimed, poor people who got locked up and held because they couldn’t make $500 bail.

Within just the first 2 ½ months of bail reform, by March 15, 2020, crime in New York City rose by over 20%, the largest increase in crime in decades. Progressive advocates of bail reform still incredibly claim that it had NO impact on New York City’s crime rate. They really don’t say WHAT caused the dramatic rise in crime – the phases of the moon? Climate change? Russian collusion? But they are sure that releasing every single person charged with burglary, drug dealing, car theft, grand larceny, shoplifting and numerous other crimes in January of 2020 had nothing to do with the 26.5% rise in burglary, 68% rise in car theft, 15.8% rise in grand larceny and 19% rise in petit larceny that occurred in the first 2 ½ months of 2020. (That was pre-COVID, by the way.)

So, after 4 years of bail reform and many other progressive criminal justice reforms in New York, where are we now? If you compare the crime rate in 2019 to the crime rate in 2023, this is where we are:

Felony Index Crime Rate in 2023 compared to 2019:
Murder + 21%
Rape – 18%
Robbery +26%
Felony Assault +33%
Burglary +26%
Grand Larceny +13%
Car theft +191%
There were just over 96,000 of these felony index crimes in 2019. In 2023, there were 126,000, a 31% increase over the pre-bail reform crime rate. Misdemeanor petit larcenies, which includes shoplifting, rose 19% from 2019. But that number is surely way under-reported because who even bothers to report shoplifting anymore?

But there is more danger on the horizon. New York City’s plan to close Rikers Island requires a citywide jail population of just 3300 inmates. There are currently about 6200 inmates in custody. That means the city will have to release almost 3000 MORE prisoners over the next few years in order to close Rikers – and these are more violent, more dangerous and more “experienced” prisoners than those who were released under bail reform. New York is in for an even bigger crime rise when that happens. Hold onto your hats and, perhaps more importantly, your wallets.