The Supervised Release Program reduces the number of people held in jail simply because they cannot afford bail.
Along with people who cannot afford bail, under New York State’s bail reform that went into effect in 2020, the program also serves people no longer legally eligible for bail, but who a judge believes would be more likely to appear in court if linked to the program rather than released without any support.
The Center for Justice Innovation began offering Supervised Release through Brooklyn Justice Initiatives in 2014. In 2016, the program was expanded citywide, with the Center now also responsible for implementation in the Bronx and Staten Island. At the time, the program primarily served individuals charged with misdemeanor and nonviolent felony offenses. In late 2019, it was expanded under statewide bail reform to serve individuals charged with any offense. In previous years, the Center has provided more than 2,000 people with an alternative to pretrial detention.
Supervised Release serves individuals charged with a crime who might otherwise be detained pretrial or who are deemed a risk to fail to appear in court without the program’s supervision and services. Participants must be ordered by a judge to participate in Supervised Release and agree to abide by the terms of the program.
Once a judge orders an individual to Supervised Release, program staff immediately engages with them to explain the program. Staff will setup an appointment with the individual to conduct a full intake and needs assessment, identifying what, if any, referrals might be beneficial.
Supervision consists of in-person meetings and phone call check-ins ranging in frequency from once a month to once a week. The level of supervision is assigned to participants based on their probability of returning to court and whether the charged offense is eligible for bail under New York’s bail statute. Each participant receives a supervision schedule from their social worker. Social workers then schedule face-to-face and phone/electronic contact appointments and make voluntary referrals to community-based services (such as vocational/employment, mental health, substance use, and educational services).