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Factors Influencing Release and Bail Decisions in New York City, Part 3. Cross-Borough Analysis

NCJ Number
Mary T. Phillips Ph.D.
Date Published
July 2004
81 pages
This third part of a three-part report on a study of judicial release and bail decisions at criminal court arraignment in New York City presents borough comparisons (Manhattan and Brooklyn) and synthesizes the findings for samples of cases processed between September 2002 through March 2003.
A total of 15 judges in Brooklyn and 17 judges in Manhattan were included in the research, with the number of cases for each judge varying from 1 to 195 in Brooklyn and from 13 to 147 in Manhattan, yielding 1,000 observed cases in Manhattan and 999 in Brooklyn. The outcomes of primary interest were the judge's release-on-recognizance (ROR) decision and the amount of bail set. For both boroughs, the prosecutor's bail request was the most powerful predictor of both ROR and bail amount, with it being the only important factor in fixing bail amount. Defendant's warrant history and charge severity were important determinants of the prosecutor's consent to ROR. The defense attorney's influence on a judge's ROR and bail decisions was negligible. The report's possible explanations for the major finding of the study is judges' reliance on prosecutors to assimilate the essentials of each case, judges' and prosecutors' agreement on the important factors in the case, and prosecutors' adjustment of bail requests to reflect the decision patterns of particular judges. There was inequity in both prosecutorial ROR recommendations and judicial ROR decisions for similar defendants. 9 figures, 9 tables, and appended independent variable and logistic regression models of ROR


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