New Spanish-language report analyzes the successes of bail reform, especially for the population identified in state data as “Hispanic,” and examines how media coverage across English and Spanish outlets have falsely connected bail reform to rises in crime
NEW YORK, NY – Today, FWD.us released a new Spanish-language report, “Libertad, Luego La Prensa” – “Freedom, Then the Press” – the latest offering in a line of publications detailing the clear and life-saving successes of New York’s bail reform laws, this time with a particular focus on those identified as “Hispanic ” in state data. Despite a body of evidence clearly showing that bail reform has helped New Yorkers and not led to an increase in crime, this latest report finds that media outlets — both in English and in Spanish — continue to fall into common misreporting tactics that contributed to rollbacks of the historic 2019 bail reforms.
Multiple independent analyses of New York City and statewide data have pointed to the fact that bail reform is not linked to an increase in crime, and bail reform has had no negative impact on public safety or court appearance rates – and has, in fact, advanced public safety in New York.
“Libertad, Luego La Prensa” builds on the in-depth media analysis from FWD.us’ first two English-language volumes released in April 2021 and December 2022. Those reports summarized that media outlets’ harmful mishandling of bail reform-related reporting was characterized by three main practices: 1) disseminating inaccurate and misleading information, 2) using dehumanizing language, and 3) relying solely on law enforcement sources in their reporting. All of the media outlets that disseminated anti-bail reform messaging ignored the abundance of available information demonstrating that bail reform has been astoundingly successful, and has not led to a rise in crime. This report finds that many of those same trends exist in Spanish-language media.
“We hope this report can shed light on the truth about the success of bail reform in New York, and help more Spanish-language media outlets understand their vital role in discussing policies that helps keep families and communities safe,” said Alana Sivin, New York State Director at FWD.us and report author. “Spanish-speaking families have disproportionately experienced the harms of pretrial detention, and bail reform allowed thousands to stay home while awaiting trial. We hope this report will help Spanish-language media outlets amplify the successes that bail reform has provided for our communities, learn from the mistakes of their English-language counterparts, and continue informing Spanish-speaking families in a way that accurately reflects the life-saving value of reforms that have significantly improved the lives of New Yorkers across the state. ”
Key findings from the report include:
- In its first two years, bail reform successfully resulted in 24,000 fewer people, or 1,000 fewer people per month, being held on bail for misdemeanor and non-violent felony charges. Of this group of people spared bail, 5,200 were identified in the data as “Hispanic,” meaning that over 200 fewer Hispanic people had bail set on their cases each month.
- Between 2019 and 2021, bail reform successfully resulted in $104 million in bail not set or $4,300 per case. As a result of bail reform, families and loved ones no longer have to face the difficult decision of having to forego spending these dollars on necessities like food, healthcare, and rent in order to pay for bail. For the Hispanic community, this made it so that families avoided facing $23 million dollars in bail set over those two years.
- Since the 2019 implementation, bail reform resulted in 1.9 million nights (379,700 nights for Hispanic people), an average of 79 nights per person, spent at home instead of in a jail cell.
- Bail reform has provided immeasurable benefits for New Yorkers going through the courts without compromising public safety. Rearrest rates for cases affected by bail reform remained largely the same before and after the implementation of bail reform and failure to appear rates actually declined. Only 3.6 percent of people impacted by bail reform were rearrested for a violent felony.