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Data collection, analysis and reporting is important to the success of any pretrial justice reform effort and is one of the requirements of the 2020 New York State bail legislation. This new brief offers guidance to pretrial service agencies in meeting the annual reporting requirements and enumerates best practices in the collection and use of data.

In 2020, New York implemented reforms to its bail laws designed to create a fairer and more equitable criminal legal system. Several other states, such as New Jersey and Illinois, have pursued similar changes. These reforms aim to significantly reduce pretrial detention while promoting high court appearance rates. A key provision of New York’s new bail law is that court administrators must track individuals charged with criminal offenses in the pretrial phase of their case and pretrial service agencies must submit annual reports to the Office of Court Administration (OCA). While some counties had already been tracking the progress and outcomes of people under pretrial supervision, for many others this is uncharted territory.

In this new brief, CJA summarizes how pretrial service agencies can implement data collection and reporting policies and practices that support the requirements of annual reporting and improve the quality, fairness, and efficiency of the criminal legal system, specifically at the pretrial stage. The information included in these annual reports, such as metrics on race and ethnicity, non-monetary release conditions, and length of supervision helps pretrial service agencies uncover patterns related to client behavior and uncover gaps in policy and practice that can inform program improvements. Furthermore, disaggregating pretrial service data based on demographics and other characteristics can highlight racial and other disparities.

The research brief also includes several resources provided by OCA to assist pretrial service agencies in meeting the data reporting requirements. 

A reliable system of data collection that is publicly accessible benefits pretrial service agencies as well as the people and communities they serve. Data transparency can bring about more trust in the criminal legal system and facilitate more collaborative efforts at the local and state level to make pretrial justice fairer and more equitable for all.