U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Decade of Bail Research in New York City

NCJ Number
Mary T. Phillips, Ph.D.
Date Published
August 2012
166 pages
This final report on a decade of bail research in New York City synthesizes the major findings of the research.
The research began in 2002 with a pilot project to determine the feasibility of collecting data from courtroom observations that would be of use in examining the factors in judges' decisions to release or set bail for defendants at arraignment. Findings from each phase of the research raised further questions, leading to an expansion of the study to include the role played by the prosecutor in the judge's bail decisions, the role of commercial bonds in bail release, the association between release type and failure to appear (FTA), and the effects of pretrial detention on case outcomes. Eight full reports and seven research briefs were published between 2004 and 2011 presenting the results of the bail project. Each report in the bail project series has concluded with a list of policy recommendations intended to reduce unnecessary detention. This goal will be pursued through three actions. First, the use of release on recognizance (ROR) for defendants who present a low risk of FTA will be increased. Second, money bail will be replaced by expanded options for supervised release. Third, when judges do set bail, they will be encouraged to use the options already available to them in enabling defendants to post cash bail instead of a bond. Options include greater and more effective use of cash alternatives and more use of secured, partially secured, and unsecured bonds in place of commercial bonds. This report also advises that consideration should be given to amending the New York State bail law to authorize detention without bail for dangerous defendants, accompanied by adequate provisions for due process. 12 tables, 46 figures, an extensive bibliography, and appended New York City Criminal Justice Agency recommendation system, bail amount by borough and charge severity, and statistical procedures