New York City's Incarceration Rate Hits New Low

By - DEC. 20, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Linda I.
Gibbs, Chief Policy Advisor John Feinblatt, Correction Commissioner Dora B.
Schriro and Probation Commissioner Vincent N. Schiraldi today announced an
historic drop in the City's incarceration rates. Since 2001, major felony crime
in New York City has been reduced by 32 percent - a sharper decline than the
rest of the nation. Yet during this time, the City's incarceration rate has
also plummeted by 32 percent. 

In a contrary trend, the incarceration rate
in the rest of the country has increased by five percent. By 2011 the New York City
incarceration rate was 27 percent lower than the rest of the nation. The City
has defied the national trend through effective police tactics to prevent crime
over the last decade, with recent additional gains from social justice programs
that are being expanded and refined through the Mayor's Young Men's Initiative.
The Mayor made the announcement at the Department of Correction Graduation
Ceremony at Lehman College.

 "New York's crime rate has gone down more quickly and more steeply than the
rest of the country and we are the model for low crime in this nation," said
Mayor Bloomberg.  "But unlike the rest of the country, the number of
people we are incarcerating has also gone down. Some people say the only way
you stop crime is to incarcerate. We have proven that to be untrue:
successfully preventing crime and breaking cycles of criminal activity can save
thousands from a life of cycling through the criminal justice system."

out is hard, staying out is harder," said Deputy Mayor Gibbs. "We will continue
working together to break down the barriers that impede a newly released
individual from succeeding, and we will work with communities throughout the
city to ensure safety as well as support the success of community members when
they come home."

"Policing strategies that reduce
crime have the added benefit of dramatically reducing incarceration in New York City," said
Chief Policy Advisor Feinblatt. "This was not foreordained. Instead it is the
result of stopping crimes before they happen, and keeping those who would have
been convicted of those crimes out of jails, productively engaged in their

"The innovative programs we are
putting into place, such as ABLE - which helps incarcerated youth to make
better decisions - and other programs focusing on adult inmates, both
behavioral programs, promise to make a measurable difference in institutional
conduct and recidivism rates," said Correction Commissioner Schriro.
"Increasingly both our custody management and discharge planning strategies
rely on objective assessments to target inmates that pose real risk of
continued criminal conduct in jails and after release with interventions that will
keep them on the straight and narrow."

Incarceration Rate Declines

A New York City inmate is anyone arrested in New
York City in City Jails or State prisons. In 2001, there were 699 inmates per
100,000 residents in New York City and the national rate was 620 inmates per
100,000 people in the United States, giving New York City an incarceration rate
13 percent higher than the rate in the rest of the county.

In 2011, there
were 474 inmates per 100,000 residents in New York City and the national rate was
650 inmates per 100,000 people in the United States, giving New York City an
incarceration rate 27 percent lower
than the rest of the country.

nation's incarceration rate rose by
five percent from 2001 to 2011, while the City's incarceration rate was reduced by 32 percent.

From 2001 to 2010, New York City has seen a far
steeper decline in crime than the rest of the nation, with crime in New York
City falling by 35 percent and crime in the nation falling by 13 percent. 
Thus, a national decline in crime did not correspond to a national decline in
incarceration, indicating New York City's decline in incarceration was not
preordained but the result of mindful strategies to break cycles of crime and
support individuals returning from jail and prison to succeed.

Evidence-Based Interventions

City's internationally-replicated data-driven policing strategies centered on
targeting hot spots of crime identified through the CompStat reporting system
is responsible for the dramatic reduction in incarcerations in the city. The
City has been building on these efforts by using validated risk assessment,
early intervention and community-based programs throughout the criminal justice
system to prevent crime.

On the juvenile side, the City, with
help from the Vera Institute of Justice, created a validated Risk Assessment
Instrument that uses easily accessible data to quickly determine the risk that
a young person will re-offend. This instrument has been in place for five years
and is applied to every case entering the system. In addition to this risk
instrument, the City has created a full
array of Alternative to Detention programs targeted at youth who pose a
moderate risk of flight or re-arrest while their cases are pending. These
include interventions like community-based afterschool supervision programs and
Intensive Community MonitoringSince these programs launched there has
been a 23 percent drop in re-arrests across all risk levels, all while more
young people are at home in their communities.

Additionally, the Juvenile Justice Initiative - which since 2007
has provided intensive evidence-based services for youth who would otherwise be
serving time in institutional settings -
has achieved a 10 percent drop in re-arrests and a 29 percent drop
in arrests for violent felonies among program participants.  The Department of Probation has implemented policies allowing
lower-risk clients to receive the supports they need to move out of the system
while reserving the full force of the agency's authority to supervise and guide
the most challenging clients, resulting in a 14 percent decline in
felony-arrest rates over the past decade for newly sentenced individuals.

In terms of adults, New
York City boasts a well-established, effective network
of felony drug courts that provide judicially-monitored, treatment-based
alternatives to incarceration to addicted drug and property offenders.  Studies have shown that drug court
participants show substantially lower recidivism rates than matched comparison
groups.  Likewise, participants in the
Center for Employment Opportunity's Transitional Job Program, which serves
ex-prisoners who are returning to the community, were less likely to be
convicted of a crime and re-incarcerated.

upon the successes of these community-based efforts, New York City is moving
forward with a comprehensive strategy that will bring these initiatives to
scale in both the juvenile and adult justice systems. Under the auspices of the
Young Men's Initiative, we are continuing a cross-agency transformation that is
tough on crime, smart on solutions and committed to breaking the cycle of
criminal behavior, the debilitating impacts of
preventable incarceration, and the disparities impacting the lives of our
city's young black and Latino men.