Barry Latzer in the National Review:
New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, just announced a bail-reform program. Details were not yet available at press time, but it’s clear that Cuomo intends to release thousands of arrested persons, even suspected felons, without bail.
Meanwhile, across the Hudson, New Jersey has already launched its bail-reform plan. It replaces money bail with an algorithm that scores recently arrested defendants on dangerousness plus the likelihood of their appearance at court hearings. In the first three months of operation, three-quarters of the state’s defendants were released. After six months, New Jersey’s non-sentenced jail population declined 20 percent and was 35 percent lower than it had been two years earlier.
That’s good for the defendants, who don’t have to spend time in jail in the event that they’re unable to make bail. But is it safe for the public? As with virtually every other criminal-justice reform, these experiments increase public risk. Any reform that keeps parolees, probationers, or pretrial defendants out of jail or prison, either by making their sentences shorter or by replacing incarceration with release to the community, is risky.