An Empirical Evaluation of the Impact of New York's Bail Reform on Crime Using Synthetic Controls
64 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2021
Date Written: November 15, 2021
We conduct an empirical evaluation of the impact of New York's bail reform on crime. New York State's Bail Elimination Act went into effect on January 1, 2020, eliminating money bail and pretrial detention for nearly all misdemeanor and nonviolent felony defendants. Our analysis of effects on aggregate crime rates after the reform informs the understanding of bail reform and general deterrence. We conduct a synthetic control analysis for a comparative case study of impact of bail reform. We focus on synthetic control analysis of post-intervention changes in crime for assault, theft, burglary, robbery, and drug crimes, constructing a dataset from publicly reported crime data of 27 large municipalities. Our findings, including placebo checks and other robustness checks, show that for assault, theft, and drug crimes, there is no significant impact of bail reform on crime; for burglary and robbery, we similarly have null findings but the synthetic control is also more variable so these are deemed less conclusive.
Keywords: impact evaluation, bail reform, criminal justice reform, law and economics, applied econometrics
JEL Classification: K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation