New York's bail reform takes effect Jan. 1

Major changes came to New York's criminal justice system on Jan. 1, 2020, when bail reform went into effect.

Now bail can only be set for those accused of violent felonies and a handful of other serious crimes while judges can put non-monetary conditions on other defendants believed to be flight risks prior to trial.

But Mayor Bill de Blasio said judges need more discretion. 

"We think the impulse behind that legislation is a good one but that legislation needs to be improved to protect the rights of judges to have flexibility to hold someone in when they present a danger to the community," de Blasio said on Sunday.

The mayor said he'll be lobbying state lawmakers in Albany to make those changes, which themselves would depart from decades of state law guided by the presumption of innocence.

New Jersey instituted a similar reform in 2017, and the state has since had significant reductions in crime rates and arrests. Whether New York's new law leads to similar stats will be one of the biggest stories of 2020.


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