(NewsNation) — Bail reform is a hot topic nationwide, especially with news like that out of New York City of criminals arrested 500 times in a short span.
A Harvard University study from 2021 looked at a dozen jurisdictions across the nation. The study analyzed “high quality and publicly available” impact evaluations of bail reform in those places. The places studied range from entire states like New York and New Jersey to large urban areas like New York City and Chicago. Also included is rural Saint Mary’s County, Maryland, with a population of 113,000.
In the 13 locations, only two, the states of Kentucky and New Jersey, saw an increase in re-arrest rates. The rest reported no significantly significant changes in the number of charges filed against those released before their trial.
Another common theme among the places studied was a giant drop in the number of guilty pleas, which the Harvard researchers attributed to defendants actually having time to prepare for their cases rather than sit behind bars.
In the case of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, home to Charlotte, guilty pleas dropped by 11 percent within the first six months of the bail reform plan going into effect.
The study does say that not all bail reform systems are perfect or even put into place as originally intended. However, nationally the policy has reduced jail overcrowding without increasing recidivism.