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 (to be published in January 2014), data will be presented by charge severity rather than by court of disposition, and additional data will be included. The one-year reporting delay for felony cases will be retained.
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 Fresh Look at Desk Appearance Tickets:
A Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) may be issued in lieu of custodial arrest for some nonfelony offenses, at the discretion of the police. The ticket directs the person to appear in court at a future date for arraignment. A research project has been completed that examines trends in the issuance of DATs throughout New York City, from their earliest use in 1964 to the present. The research focuses on the period from 2003 to 2012, during which DAT volume more than tripled. Charge composition, defendant demographics, time from arrest to arraignment, and failure to appear (FTA) rates for DAT arraignments were examined citywide and by borough. The final report will be released shortly, and a Research Brief summarizing the findings is scheduled for publication in May 2014.
Revising CJA's Release Recommendation System:
CJA is conducting research to revise its release recommendation system. The goals 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 April 2013, CJA began 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 working with the Kings County District Attorney's Office on a domestic violence homicide prevention initiative.
Posting Bail by Credit Card:
In the spring of 2012 the New York State Unified Court System initiated a pilot project to enable defendants in Manhattan to use a credit card to post bail in amounts of $2,500 or less while still in the courthouse. Although this means of making bail had long been a legal option, in practice defendants who did not post a bond were limited to cash as the only alternative. Under the program, in order for a defendant to use a credit card the judge must specifically designate a credit card option. Despite a slow start, the program was expanded to all five boroughs in January 2013. CJA is tracking the courts’ use of credit card options, and will link that information to bail making and failure to appear in a study scheduled for completion in 2014.