Prior to 2016, judges had three options when determining an individual’s pretrial release status: release on own recognizance (ROR), set money bail, or remand. This resulted in a significant number of people being held simply because they could not make bail. In 2015 alone, over 46,000 individuals were detained in city jails because of bail. What the system lacked was a consistent option for those who could be or were released but needed more assistance making their required court appearances. Supervised Release (SR) provided the courts with this new option.
THE SUPERVISED RELEASE PROGRAM
SR is a court-ordered program and non-monetary condition that provides community-based supervision and support for individuals with pending cases in New York City Criminal or Supreme Court. The purpose of SR is to help ensure a person’s return to court, which is the primary criteria used by judges when making bail decisions under New York State law. SR’s unique model employs experienced non-profit agencies to provide community-based supervision and support for individuals awaiting trial. Supervision is focused on engagement, ensuring that participants return to court and avoid arrest, and connecting individuals with resources and support systems in their communities they can use beyond the duration of a criminal case.
Since the inception of the program SR has helped divert over 50,000 individuals from jail. Currently, services are provided by four non-profit organizations:
- Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment (CASES) in Manhattan
- Center for Justice Innovation in Staten Island and Brooklyn
- The Fortune Society in The Bronx
- Criminal Justice Agency in Queens
- SR’s programming is important to help break the cycle of rearrest. According to a 2022 study issued by Arnold Ventures, individuals detained pretrial for any length of time were more likely to be re-arrested than those who were not detained.
- SR’s success has made it a national model for non enforcement-based pretrial diversions. The program was a 2018 finalist for the prestigious Harvard University Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation “Innovations in American Government” Awards.
- Findings from an evaluation released in 2020show that SR is as effective as cash bail in ensuring people return to court, with fewer unequal outcomes for people in different financial situations.