Judges across the city will now be able to participate in a program offering an alternative to bail for low-risk offenders.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday that New York City will be expanding supervised release, a program created to cut unnecessary incarceration and reduce the dependency on monetary bail.
Through the program — which has been operating in Queens since 2009 and Manhattan and Brooklyn since 2013 — judges across the city will be able to assign eligible, low-risk offenders to a supervisory program which allows them to stay at home in their communities and continue working, while they wait for trial.
“No one should be in jail simply because they are unable to pay bail,” de Blasio said. “Starting today, we are taking steps to ensure that people who can be safely supervised in the community are able to stay there, regardless of the size of their bank account.”
The new citywide $17.8 million expansion will allow about 3,000 defendants to be supervised each year.
According to the mayor, without the ability of supervised release, judges are limited to deciding between setting bail — which in some cases could lead to unnecessary jail time if a person cannot pay — or releasing the individual back into the community without having a system to make sure they will return without committing another crime.
“Supervised release is another step towards establishing a more rational approach to bail by moving us closer to a system that assesses the risk a person poses," said Elizabeth Glazer, director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. "It is a common sense approach that balances public safety and liberty by expanding the options available to judges beyond simply detention or release with no conditions.”
As part of the program, a new validated risk assessment tool — created by the Criminal Justice Agency — will be used to determine any eligible candidates and set a level of supervision appropriate for each person.
Those eligible — who are considered to not pose a public safety risk if placed back into the community — would receive phone calls or text message court reminders and supervised release providers would conduct a monthly, individualized assessment to see if supervision should be altered.
When an individual is determined to be eligible for the supervised released, providers will be able to also determine if that person would benefit from certain services such as vocational programs, housing opportunities and mental health and substance abuse treatment.
“Supervised release provides judges with a valuable option to release lower-risk individuals back to the community while their criminal cases are pending. This forward-thinking program will help ensure defendants’ return to court and keep the public safe while reducing the financial and human costs associated with unnecessary pretrial detention,” said Lawrence K. Marks, chief administrative judge of the NYS Court System.