Assembly Member David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows, Richmond Hill, Jamaica) and City Council Member I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans, Hollis, Cambria Heights, Queens Village, Addisleigh Park, Jamaica, Springfield Gardens) today lauded Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s announcement that the city’s jail population has fallen below 9,000, and is on track for a monthly jail population below 9,000 for the first time in more than three decades.
With just a few days left in the month, the average daily population for December is 8,980, and today’s population is 8,783.
“Today, New York City has the lowest incarceration rate of all large U.S. cities and crime rates continue to fall, proving that a large city can have small jails and safe communities,” said de Blasio. “We’ve been carrying out a multi-pronged effort over the course of my first term to shrink our jail population, and today we see the results: a jail population lower than it’s been in 35 years.”
In March, de Blasio announced the city’s plan to close Rikers and replace it with a borough-based jail system that is smaller, safer and fairer. Achieving that goal will require the census be reduced to 5,000. The current jail population is down 58 percent from its peak of 21,674 in 1991 and has fallen more than 20 percent since de Blasio took office.
Additionally, the jail population has fallen about 5 percent (roughly 400 beds) compared to this time last year. The reduction of the jail population is driven by a number of factors including reduced crime and greatly expanded alternatives to incarceration. Fewer people are entering jail because:
- Crime continues to fall. As of December 24, there have been 284 homicides, 774 shootings, and 11,827 burglaries citywide. Compared to the same time period in 2013 this represents a 14 percent decrease in homicides, a 28 percent decrease in shootings, and a 30 percent decrease in burglaries.
- Jail is increasingly reserved for serious crime. Arrests for low-level crimes continue to fall: misdemeanor arrests are down 29 percent in the last 4 years. And the number of jail admissions for misdemeanor detainees has dropped by 25 percent since 2014, indicating we are getting closer to the goal of reserving jail for those who pose a risk.
- For the first time in city history, we now have a citywide alternative to bail program – supervised release – that has diverted over 6,000 people from jail since launching in 2016. Funded in part by the District Attorney of Manhattan’s office, supervised release allows judges to assign eligible, lower-risk defendants to a supervisory program that enables them to remain at home with their families and continue working while awaiting trial. The program has helped to reduce the number of people in jail on bail of $2000 and under by 36 percent in the last four years.
Today’s announcement marks a major milestone in the city’s work to close Rikers Island and replace it with a smaller, safer and fairer justice system. Progress is happening every day. The complete Roadmap, along with real-time updates and opportunities to get involved, is available at nyc.gov/CloseRikers.
“Lowering our city’s jail population to below 9,000 is proof of the De Blasio administration’s commitment to criminal justice reform and public protection” said Weprin, Assembly Correction Committee Chairman.
“By presiding over a historic decrease in crime, increasing alternatives for low risk offenders, and cutting down on case processing times; the Mayor has made for a safer, more fair, and just New York. I praise Mayor Bill De Blasio on this significant accomplishment and look forward to working with the administration on further steps to improve our criminal justice system.”
Miller said the reduction in the city’s number of detained and incarcerated validates the Administration and Council’s recent efforts to steer those at risk towards alternatives that both preserve public safety and help them avoid the irreversible consequences of being processed through the criminal justice system.
“Mayor de Blasio, Director Glazer, Commissioner Brann and the uniformed officers at Corrections all deserve to be commended for this collective achievement,” said ,” said Miller, Chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor.