Total Correctional Population: 212,100
Number on Parole or Probation: 142,400
Number in Local Jail or Prison: 74,400
Incarceration Rate per 100,000 residents: 380
Incarceration Rate Rank: 42nd
Corrections Share of 2018 General Fund Expenditures: 3.8%
“Correctional Populations in the United States, 2016,” U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics.
"2018 State Expenditure Report," National Association of State Budget Officers
recently enacted reforms
“Raise the Age:” Raises the age of criminal responsibility to 18 years of age and allows intervention and evidence-based treatment for non-violent youthful offenders; requires youthful offenders to be placed in specialized juvenile detention facilities instead of adult prisons; creates the Raise the Age Implementation Task Force; requires law enforcement to video-record the custodial interrogations of individuals accused of serious offenses; improves witness identification procedures.
June 14, 2019
“I’m not trying to justify anything. But there is more than one way to pay for a crime, and I have overpaid for mine.”
Legislators in Maine are debating a bill that would allow courts to reduce juvenile restitution based on financial circumstances or allow some of the debt to be paid off with community service. While many states have moved to reduce or eliminate juvenile fines and fees, only six states (Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Wisconsin) and the District of Columbia place a limit on juvenile restitution obligations. These debts are not consistently collected—Connecticut recovered 87% of the amount owed, while Mississippi recovered only 28%.
June 7, 2019
“How do you find meaning in a life where you may never see the outside world?”
Photographer Sara Bennett photographed women serving prison sentences of 18 years or longer at New York’s Bedford Hills and Taconic Correctional Facilities. The women, who were all convicted of murder, were photographed at their workplaces, including the library, gym, and infant center. “The lifers all know each other,” Bennett said. “…It’s a society. Sometimes it feels like a secluded community.”
May 24, 2019
“…The conclusion was in the end that it really is a good investment to administer these programs, and Project MORE is doing a great job for the county, and we’re seeing really good results.”
An audit from the Dutchess County Comptroller showed that the county’s partnership with Project Model Offender Reintegration Experience, Inc. (“Project MORE”) has delivered a good return on investment. Program costs per participant ranged from $6.84 to $46.04 per day, compared with the average cost of $210 per day for people incarcerated at the county jail. In addition to continuing Project MORE funding, Comptroller Robin Lois recommended evaluating the possible expansion of gender-specific programming at the Women’s Center.
April 26, 2019
“There is more work to be done, but this is a great sign that we are on the right path.”
New numbers from the Bureau of Justice Statistics showed a continued decline in prison populations, down to 1.49 million from a peak in 2009 of 1.62 million. Five states—New York, New Jersey, Alaska, Connecticut and Vermont—have reduced their prison population by at least 30% in the past twenty years. Not all states have seen declines—Kentucky’s state inmate population increased by 2.3% between 2016 and 2017, and Utah saw an increase of 4.3% in that time frame.
April 26, 2019
“If our policies make a second chance harder, especially in a way that is disproportional by economic status, they need to change.”
Starting this month, New York and Pennsylvania will no longer automatically suspend driver’s licenses for people convicted of drug crimes. Pennsylvania suspended nearly 20,000 licenses each year for non-driving offenses, and between 2009 and 2015, New York suspended nearly 180,000 licenses for drug crimes unrelated to driving. In their resolution opposing federal license suspension requirements, New York legislatures said the policy imposed “an undue barrier in the ability of individuals convicted of such crimes to find and maintain employment and take part in the activities of daily living.”
March 8, 2019
“I believe that early and open discovery is just and fair, and I look forward to publicly endorsing a discovery reform bill and seeing it signed into law.”
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez called for reforms to New York’s discovery rules, calling the current system “trial by ambush.” Gonzalez noted that the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office has employed an “open file discovery” practice for years, while protecting the safety of victims and witnesses. In a departure from their previous stance, the District Attorney’s Association of the State of New York also endorsed changes to the system. “For the first time in the history of our organization,” said DAASNY President and Albany County DA David Soares, “we are openly calling on our lawmakers to take action and enact criminal justice reform.”
February 15, 2019
“…Open and transparent discovery promotes the interests of the criminal justice community, from the prosecutors and police to the accused.”
New Yorkers United for Justice released a new ad aimed at educating people on the need for discovery reform. The ad features Michael Morton, whose wrongful conviction helped spur Texas to change its discovery process to prevent prosecutors from withholding evidence. New York’s current law allows prosecutors to restrict access to information, including police reports, witness statements and grand jury testimony until just before a trial begins. Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal included language backing the expansion of pretrial file-sharing.
December 7, 2018
“What we heard from employers in the nonprofit and government sectors who want to hire people who were involved in the justice system is that a lot of times, there’s a gap in technology skills.”
At John Jay College’s Prisoner Reentry Institute (PRI), returning citizens can catch up on technological developments they may have missed while they were incarcerated. Students in Tech 101 learn to set up Google accounts and use Microsoft Office suite, get an overview of digital privacy issues, and see how employers use social media when making hiring decisions. Elena Sigman, PRI’s director of collaborative learning, credits partnerships between educational institutions, the justice system, affiliated nonprofits and the city for Tech 101’s success, and hopes it will lead to replicas in other cities and counties.
September 7, 2018
“These post-implementation analyses reveal that the CJRA had an immediate and sizeable impact on summons issuance in New York City. Further, the intended outcome of a dramatic reduction in the volume of warrants issued in criminal court was achieved.”
John Jay College’s Misdemeanor Justice Project released a report this week on the implementation of the Criminal Justice Reform Act (CJRA), which created the presumption that certain low-level offenses would result in a civil, rather than criminal, summons. In 2016, the year the CJRA was passed, the majority of criminal summonses in New York City were for public urination, public drinking, littering, noise offense or parks rules offenses. In the six months following implementation 89% of summonses for those five offenses were civil, and the city saw a 94% decrease in warrants for CJRA-eligible offenses.
July 27, 2018
“Her profound belief is that answers to vexing criminal justice problems can be best assessed from the ground up.”
The Bail Project, a five-year, $52 million plan to bail out 160,000 people, started in New York and now operates in Tulsa, St. Louis, Detroit and Louisville. In the Bronx, the average bail posted was $768, and the project’s staff worked with clients to ensure that they showed up for court dates. More than half of their cases resulted in dismissal of all charges, and only 2% of clients were sentenced to jail for the original charges.
July 20, 2018
“The relationship between police and the communities they serve is at a crisis in many cities, and they have no way of measuring what success is right now.”
In a partnership with Elucd, the city of New York is offering residents the chance to give direct feedback on satisfaction with police performance and overall safety. More than 200,000 unique respondents have filled out the 10-question surveys, which come through pop-up ads on smartphones and robocalls to landlines, and responses are broken down into 297 precinct sectors. Weekly CompStat meetings now include monthly “trust score” feedback and rankings.
July 6, 2018
“Having a conviction, even a minor one, it puts up another hurdle. We’re trying to give people a leg up.”
The New York Times profiles advocates and people with criminal records who are trying to navigate the state’s complicated record-sealing system. A new law, which took effect in October, allows New Yorkers with no more than two misdemeanor convictions or one non-violent felony and one misdemeanor conviction to apply for record sealing after 10 years. As of the end of May, only 346 people had had their convictions sealed. For a deeper dive into reentry and collateral consequences, June’s Federal Sentencing Reporter, "Managing Collateral Consequences in the Information Age,” includes studies from Indiana, North Carolina, Nevada, Tennessee and California, as well as a state-by-state guide to expungement.
June 29, 2018
“We believe that shedding light on state compassionate release programs is the first step to improving them.”
Families Against Mandatory Minimums released a report this week on the state of compassionate release programs across the country. They found a patchwork of policies, with incomplete, inconsistent and incoherent guidelines and rules. 25 states, including Arizona, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Tennessee, have unclear or insufficient guidance surrounding their compassionate release programs for elderly incarcerated people, and Iowa has no formal compassionate release program at all. The report includes 21 policy recommendations to expand, improve, and publicize programs.
May 25, 2018
“…Drug treatment courts provide a range of services and support that aid recovery. But it’s not just treatment that benefits participants. It’s learning how to live a clean and sober life.”
A report from the Rockefeller Institute of Government and the Center for Law and Policy Solutions examined drug treatment courts, using New York’s 3rd Judicial District as a case study. Despite the court’s initial success, they found lingering challenges with accessibility, cost, and stigma for participants. Their recommendations include an increase in data transparency, expanded access, and increased funding for substance abuse treatment, education, and prevention services.
May 25, 2018
“…The collection of revenue, and not the pursuit of justice or protecting the public, has become the driving force for civil and criminal enforcement.”
A lawsuit filed by the Institute for Justice alleges that Doraville, Georgia has turned the local justice system into a cash machine for the city’s budget. Fines, fees, and forfeitures accounted for 19 to 30 percent of Doraville’s budget over the past five years, and residents face steep fines for chipped paint, cracked concrete, and improperly stacked firewood. The practice is not limited to Georgia—fines and fees provided 30.4% of the budget in Saint Ann, Missouri, 25.6% in North Hills, New York, and 14.5% in Sunset, Utah.
May 18, 2018
“We are paying a fortune to keep people incarcerated who are very different from the people we sent away. It’s time for us to understand prisons are not nursing homes.”
According to analysis by the Osborne Association, New York taxpayers spend up to $240,000 annually to keep an aging prisoner behind bars. Older prisoners have the lowest recidivism rate of any age cohort, with only 4.2% returning to prison on new commitments. The report, The High Costs of Low Risk, recommends expanded use of parole and compassionate release, better training to recognize age-related issues like hearing loss and cognitive decline, and tailored discharge plans to help older returning citizens with reentry.
May 4, 2018
“There are mountains of evidence that show having a child can be a very powerful motivator for change, so when inmates can stay connected with their families, their risk of recidivism goes down.”
Bernalillo County, New Mexico, has approved a new policy that would allow jailed women to breast-feed a child, or use a breast pump and storage facility. A bill to allow women in all of New Mexico’s jails and prisons to breastfeed was passed by both chambers in 2017 but pocket-vetoed by Governor Susana Martinez. And in New York City, city leaders announced a pilot program to allow women at Rikers Island to spend time with their families outside of jail. The Children’s Museum of Manhattan will provide creative programming for incarcerated women, their children, and custodial caregivers when it is closed to the public.
April 6, 2018
“The program humanizes incarcerated people and allows them to be seen—both by prison staff, and themselves—as valuable members of the communities to which they belong.”
A new pilot program in New York prisons trains incarcerated people to act as emergency responders for overdose victims. State correctional and public health authorities educate incarcerated people on the proper use of naloxone, and on their rights as “Good Samaritans,” and equip them with naloxone kits upon release.
March 30, 2018
“I’m here facing charges that nobody’s proved me guilty of, but you treat me like an animal.”
In a collaboration between the Marshall Project and Vice, “Jordan,” who spent 11 months in the Onondaga County (NY) Justice Center awaiting trial on burglary charges, describes the experience of being a teenager in the Special Housing Unit, or solitary confinement. Researchers from UCLA found a strong correlation between admission to juvenile justice facilities for youth and serious physical and mental health issues in adulthood.
February 16, 2018
“State parole violators represent the only subgroup of offenders that is growing.”
In response to a Columbia University study on New York’s population of people jailed for parole violations, the New York Times Editorial Board called for the state to adopt a host of reforms which have shown promise in other states. Recommendations included graduated sanctions and rewards, judicial review of revocations for technical violations, and expansion of education, substance abuse treatment and housing support for parolees.
February 2, 2018
“This is a win-win for every stakeholder involved—the court, the police, and the public itself.”
In an effort to reduce failure-to-appear rates, New York’s criminal justice agencies partnered with the University of Chicago Crime Lab and Ideas42 to redesign the summons and use text messages to remind defendants of their court dates. The paperwork redesign reduced the rate of failures-to-appear by 13% and, when combined with text message reminders, led to a 36%.
January 12, 2018
"Ending cash bail is an idea whose time has come”
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance announced that his office would no longer seek bail for many nonviolent misdemeanors and violations. Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez, whose office quietly reformed policies behind bail requests in April of 2017, said he’s pleased with the policy. “We’re not jeopardizing public safety, the results are positive.”