Talking Bail Reform at the Schomburg Center

by John Megaw, Director of Special Initiatives

The Vera Institute of Justice and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice hosted a forum on bail reform last week at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The forum, titled “Resetting Bail: the Price of Justice in New York City”, took a hard look at the current bail system – how it works, strategies for improving to make it more fair and effective and the pioneering practices already in place to inspire enduring change.

Speakers included Elizabeth Glazer, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, Miriam Popper, Program Director of Alternatives to Detention and Incarceration at the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, Nicholas Turner, President and Director of the Vera and Honorable George Grasso, the Supervising Judge of the New York City Criminal Court Arraignments.

One of the pioneering practices highlighted is the new Supervised Release program that began on March 1 in Criminal Courts in all five boroughs.  Over 500 men and women who might otherwise be languishing on Rikers Island awaiting trial have already begun in the program in less than three months!  A video highlighting some of the success stories from the program, including a Bronx Community Solutions client, was well received by the 250 criminal justice reformers and community members who attended the forum.