The New York City Criminal Justice
Agency, Inc. (CJA),
is a not-for-profit corporation that provides a variety of criminal justice services under a contract with the City of New York. In order to perform these functions CJA maintains a computerized database containing arrest and defendant information, and case-processing and court-outcome data. Within the Agency the Research Department uses this information to assist in the operational work of the organization, and for program-planning purposes both within and outside of CJA.
As part of its information services, the Research Department reports on Agency activity, arrest patterns, arraignment outcomes, and failure-to-appear (FTA) rates in Criminal and Supreme Court. This information, encompassing the entire range of Agency activities, is presented in our Annual Report series. The first Annual Report, which was published in February 2005, covered arrests during the last six months of 2003, beginning with the implementation of CJA's new recommendation system. (Data for previous years are available in the discontinued Semi-Annual Report series.) Subsequent issues cover a full calendar year of arrests: the current year’s cohort for Criminal Court cases, and the previous year’s cohort for cases disposed in Supreme Court. The 2011 Annual Report was published in December 2012.
Beginning with the 2012 Annual Report (scheduled for publication January 2014), data will no longer be broken down by court of disposition. Instead, much of the data will be presented separately for felony and nonfelony cases. While this breakdown corresponds somewhat to the Criminal Court/Supreme Court distinction, the correspondence is not exact. We believe that presenting data according to charge severity rather than court of disposition will render it more useful to criminal justice practitioners and more easily understood by the public. The one-year reporting delay for Supreme Court cases under the old structure will be retained for felony cases because of the extra time needed for these more serious cases to reach disposition. Accordingly, the 2012 Annual Report will present FTA and release data for nonfelony cases with an arrest in 2012 and for felony cases with an arrest in 2011.
CJA's research agenda covers a broad array of criminal justice policy concerns, ranging from studies of juvenile justice, domestic violence, and alternative-to-incarceration programs to participation in the creation of new City initiatives. The Department's specialized research projects are designed to evaluate or better inform criminal justice policies. Summaries of several current research projects are provided below.
A New Look at Desk Appearance Tickets:
A new research project is under way to examine trends in arrests for which a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) was written. A DAT is a written summons for a minor offense informing a defendant of the place and date on which he or she is to appear in court for arraignment, issued in lieu of taking the defendant into custody. The New York City Police Department (NYPD) issues DATs for nonfelony and some felony charges if the defendant meets certain criteria. The study will analyze the factors driving huge fluctuations in the volume of DAT arrests since the 1980s. Changes in the demographics of DAT defendants, the composition of charges, time from arrest to arraignment, case dispositions, and failure to appear for the scheduled arraignment will be examined.
Revising of CJA's Release Recommendation System:
CJA is conducting a new research project to revise its release recommendation system. The goals of the new research are 1) to improve the prediction accuracy of the current release recommendation system by using recent data, more advanced statistical methods, and additional predictors of risk, and 2) to develop an alternative release recommendation system that assesses the risk of pretrial failure, including both failure to appear and pretrial re-arrest. The data is primarily extracted from CJA’s database and is supplemented by DCJS data. The sample for this project is a cohort of defendants arrested between January 1, 2009 and June 30, 2009, in which the defendants were prosecuted on new charges. Four models will be developed to test the risks of 1) failure to appear, 2) willful failure to appear, 3) either FTA or re-arrest or both, and 4) either FTA or felony re-arrest or both.
Pretrial Supervised Release:
Pretrial Supervised Release is a program designed to offer judges at Criminal Court arraignment an alternative to the current choices of recognizance release or the setting of bail in selected non-violent felony cases in which defendants meet a series of charge and criminal history criteria. CJA’s Supervised Release initiative was first introduced as a pilot program in Queens County in August 2009. In March 2013, CJA will begin a new 3-year Supervised Release demonstration project in New York County.
CJA’s Research Department serves as the research partner with the City from the planning process through to program evaluation. For example, within parameters set by the City, statistical analysis is used to identify target populations best able to achieve the goals of offering Supervised Release to those defendants with a high likelihood of bail setting who do not pose unreasonably high risks of pretrial FTA and re-arrest. The Research Department also works in collaboration with program management and the Agency’s Information Systems Department in the development of data-collection instruments and reporting on program activities.
Criminal Justice Responses to Domestic Violence:
CJA is continuing its research on criminal justice policy responses to domestic violence. Domestic violence has become a focus of attention as demonstrated by new legislative initiatives, changes in police arrest practices, and in prosecutorial and court policies. These national trends are reflected in New York City, which has seen more frequent arrests in domestic violence cases, more vigorous prosecutions, greater use and enforcement of court orders of protection, and new court procedures and programs, including specialized courts to hear domestic violence cases. Using quantitative analysis along with field observation and in-depth interviews, CJA's research examines the court processing of domestic violence cases. CJA is currently examining factors leading to conviction in domestic violence cases in New York City.