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Does Bail Reform Increase Crime in New York State

In 2019, New York State passed bail reform legislation that limited the use of money bail and expanded pretrial release. The bail reform law took effect on January 1, 2020. We evaluated the effect of this law on crime rates in New York State. Interrupted time series analyses (ITSA) were used to examine whether the bail reform was significantly associated with a crime increase. When a significant association was detected, we examined whether this relationship was causal. The causal relationship was tested using synthetic control methods (SCM). We found that the rates of murder, larceny, and motor vehicle theft increased after the bail reform. We then employed SCM to create a comparison group to control for potential confounders like the pandemic. By comparing New York State with its synthetic control, we found the increases in the murder rate, larceny rate, and motor vehicle theft rate were not statistically significant. Our findings suggest that the effect of bail reform on crime rate increases is negligible.

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