New York, NY

Change in Jail Population 38%

Action Areas Bail Courts Data Analysis Diversion

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In 2018, New York City had the lowest incarceration rate of any large city in the country. Despite the city’s success in reducing the overall jail population, certain fundamental inequalities persisted in the jail.

People of color were overrepresented in the jail. Black and Latinx people made up a little more than half of the city’s population yet comprised nearly 90% of the local jail population from 2013 – 2018.

While the number of people in custody with behavioral health needs was falling, it was falling more slowly compared to the overall number of people in custody. In 2018, 43 percent of individuals in New York City jails had behavioral health disorders.


Since joining the Safety and Justice Challenge, New York City has advanced a number of strategies to rethink and redesign its criminal justice system to make it more fair, just, and equitable for all.



The city updated the program model for supervised release and conducted trainings to inform the courts on the changes. The updates included expanding program eligibility to allow a younger population charged with serious offenses and expanding the range of charges that were eligible. State-wide bail reform legislation, which passed in 2019, required further expansion of the supervised release program to be made available to all individuals charged with a crime, at the discretion of the court.



Previously, incidents involving intimate partners were not permitted within the supervised release program. However, since bail reform legislation passed, and these individuals were now accepted by the program, a class specific to intimate partner violence (IPV) was developed and implemented to respond to the needs of this population. It encourages judges to allow defendants charged with IPV to participate in the supervised release program, as an alternative to jail.



The city has increased the use of alternatives to detention and incarceration for people in the jail. Specifically, the city expanded the uptake of diversion initiatives. To ensure people could be successfully diverted to these services, the city identified and addressed barriers to diversion in the arraignment process.



The city has also worked to provide enhanced information to judges in arraignments, which has included updating a release assessment tool that offers judges the likelihood that the individual will make all court appearances.



In light of criminal justice reforms, the city developed bail and discovery reform metrics. With the substantial changes made to state laws, these metrics can be used to track the implementation and progress of these reforms.


As a result of the strategies above, New York City has made progress towards its goal of rethinking and redesigning its criminal justice system. The jail population has been reduced while keeping the community safe.

Quartery ADP for New York (2016-2024)

38.4% from baseline

More Results

Specifically, judges are using supervised release for a broader range of cases than they used to.

The city has built collaborations with other agencies, which has allowed the city to facilitate jail releases in response to COVID-19 while keeping the community safe and protecting public health.

Remaining Challenges

New York City is focused on addressing its remaining challenges in its local justice system.

With changes to the state-wide bail reform law, there is no longer a need to focus on expanding the supervised release programs. The challenge will now be to encourage judges to consider release for the more serious charges, for which bail still remains a legal option, and to continue to build out support services within the program.

The city has also been working to identify where racial and ethnic disparities occur in the justice system and will be working to address the issue going forward.

Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on every aspect of the city’s local justice system and continues to uniquely affect those incarcerated in local jails. The NYC jail population has seen a re-increase since the beginning of the pandemic, which requires a regular review of jail reduction approaches and their effectiveness.

The foundation of collaborative, data-driven strategies, including the necessary structures and collaboration from local stakeholders that are in place to support these strategies, has set the city up well to respond to the pandemic swiftly and effectively.

Lead Agency

NYC Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice

Contact Information

Miriam Popper


Office of Court Administration, New York City, Criminal Justice Agency, Center for Court Innovation, CASES

Follow @CrimJusticeNYC

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