Mayor Bloomberg Announces New York City's Incarceration Rate Hits New All-Time Low

December 26, 2013

Between 2001-2012, City Incarceration Rate Declined by 36 Percent, While Incarceration Rates in the Rest of the Nation Rose by Three Percent

Incarcerations Dramatically Reduced Through Improved Crime Prevention Strategies and Recent Gains from Innovative Social Justice Interventions

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Linda I. Gibbs, Correction Commissioner Dora B. Schriro and Probation Commissioner Vincent N. Schiraldi today announced the City’s incarceration rate hit a new all-time low. Between 2001 and 2012 the City’s incarceration rate has now fallen by 36 percent, while at the same time, the national incarceration rate grew three percent. In 2012, the City’s incarceration rate reached 30 percent below the national rate of incarceration. The City has defied the national trend through significant public safety gains including a corresponding decline in major felony crime (32 percent decline between 2000 and 2012) as well as more recent gains in alternative-to-incarceration programs for misdemeanors and substance use arrests. The Mayor also announced the selection of community-based service providers to operate New York City’s Court-based Intervention Resource Team program which will match defendants who have mental health problems with community-based services and supervision based on their risks and needs, providing treatment and reducing incarceration while improving safety and further lowering crime. They will begin a phased rollout early in 2014 beginning in Manhattan and extending to all five boroughs over the coming year. The Mayor made the announcement at the South Jamaica Neighborhood Opportunity Network where he was joined by Larry Busching, First Deputy Criminal Justice Coordinator, Clinton Lacey, Deputy Commissioner for Adult Operations of the Probation Department and Rodney Levy, Branch Chief, South Jamaica NeONCenter.

“New York City has not only kept our city safer; we’ve done so while locking fewer people up,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “While crime has decreased in our city, so has incarceration – through the end of last year, New York City’s incarceration rate was 30 percent below that of the nation’s. That success is neither accident nor coincidence: it’s the product of a coordinated focus across our entire criminal justice system.”

“The innovative programs we have put in place are helping to keep people out of jail, and to prevent them from returning to jail,” said Deputy Mayor Gibbs. “By working with communities and individuals, we are successfully preventing crime and saving thousands from a life of cycling through the criminal justice system.”

“Discharge planning and pre-release preparation are critical to reducing recidivism for both pretrial and sentenced inmates,” said Correction Commissioner Schriro. “New York City is one of the very first to focus on the jail population with promising and important results. Most defendants are released and go home, not to prison, and now, fewer of them are returning to jail.”

“Probation is the city's largest alternative to incarceration, and we are proud of the role our agency has played in reducing both crime and the number of New Yorkers who end up behind bars," said NYC Department of Probation Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi. "Two years ago, we launched the Neighborhood Opportunity Network (NeON) in an effort to shift probation back toward its roots in the community. I'm proud to report that the early results are promising--the re-arrest rate for NeON clients who are 16 to 24 years old is nearly 23 percent lower than it is for clients of the same age who don't report to a NeON.”

The Data

Reducing Incarceration
  • Between 2001 and 2012, the number incarcerated per 100k NYC residents in jails and prisons fell 36 percent (from 669 per 100k to 448 per 100k)
  • During this period, the national incarceration rate per 100k grew 3 percent (from 622 per 100k to 641 per 100k)
  • In 2012, the NYC incarceration rate was 30 percent below the national rate
  • Between 2001 and 2012, the number of inmates from New York City courts incarcerated at year’s end fell 34 percent (from 56370 to 37142)
  • Between 2001 and 2012, the number of inmates, sentenced in New York City, who were housed in NYS prisons at year’s end fell 40 percent (from 41880 to 25316) Between 2001 and 2012, the number of inmates in New York City jails fell 18 percent (from 14490 to 11827)

Declining Prison Population: Drop in Felony Drug Offenders

  • The combination of felony drug courts, alternative-to-incarceration programs for substance abusers and Rockefeller Drug Reform sharply reduced the number of felony drug offenders sentenced to prison in the City
  • Between 2004 and 2012, the number of inmates confined in state prison on felony drug charges fell 56 percent (from 15486 to 6811)
  • Between 2008 and 2012, (after Rockefeller Drug reform) the number of NYC commitments per year to state prison on felony drug charges fell 30 percent (from 2484 to 1500)

Expanded Alternatives-to-Incarceration for Misdemeanants

  • New programs like Bronx Community Solutions and CASES’ Day Custody program in Manhattan dramatically expanded alternatives to jail sentences for misdemeanants
  • After Bronx Community Solutions began offering alternative sentences to misdemeanor defendants in the Bronx in 2005, the percent of convicted defendants sentenced to jail fell from 23.7 percent in 2004 to 13.5 percent in 2012 – a 43 percent reduction in jail sentences.

Reduced Incarceration for Probation Violators

  • Between FY 2009 and FY 2013, the number of probationers incarcerated for probation violations dropped 52 percent from 2859 to 1388


The Probation Department’s Neighborhood Opportunity Network (NEON), a program of our Administration’s innovative Young Men’s Initiative, is designed to keep young men who are on probation out of further trouble with the law and on course to getting their lives on track.

NEONs have moved probation officers away from downtown courthouses and to neighborhood locations where they can directly link clients with community-based programs providing social services, education, and job training. In two years NEONs have grown to include seven offices around the city and is producing positive results: the re-arrest rate for NEON probationers who are 16 to 24 years old is nearly 23 percent lower than it is for probationers in that same age range who aren’t in the NEON program.

The Correction Department’s “Individualized Correction Achievement Network,” known as “I-CAN,” identifies and then focuses on helping pretrial and city-sentenced adult inmates who are at heightened risk of committing new offenses after their release throughout their incarceration. The Department’s “Adolescent Behavioral Learning Experience” (“ABLE”) is a cognitive-behavioral treatment program for its youngest inmates, ages 16 to 18. ABLE, financed by the nation’s first Social Impact Bond, enables young adults to acquire and apply problem-solving and decision-making skills critical to their success in jail and after their release and return to the community. I-CAN and ABLE promise to reduce readmissions to jail by 10 percent annually for both adult and adolescent inmates.

New York City’s Court-Based Intervention Resource Team Program

This partnership between the Department of Correction, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Criminal Justice Coordinator will match defendants who have mental health problems with community-based services and supervision based on their risks and needs. Through borough-based resource teams, the Court-based Intervention Resource Teams (CIRT) will screen recently admitted defendants for mental health issues and then provide referrals for qualified defendants to community-based behavioral health programs and supervision based on their charges and either their risk of failing to return to court or their likelihood of recidivism as well as relevant criminogenic factors. The Court-based Intervention Resource Teams will begin a phased rollout early in 2014 beginning in Manhattan and extending to all five boroughs over the coming year.

“By using information about mental health needs, risk of re-offense and flight risk, we can identify inmates who can benefit from services and be safely supervised in the community,” said Chief Policy Advisor and Criminal Justice Coordinator John Feinblatt. “With CIRT, we can assess these defendants as they come through the jailhouse doors, and quickly connect them with services and supervision that address their risks and needs.”

“This bold public health/public safety initiative will help individuals with mental illnesses get clinical and social supports and reduce interactions with the criminal justice system,” said Executive Deputy Commissioner for Mental Hygiene Dr. Adam Karpati. “The Health Department looks forward to working with our government and provider partners.”

”What New York City is doing with the launch of these CIRTS — system-wide changes to ensure the efficient and appropriate use of information about a defendant's mental illness, risk of flight, and risk of recidivism and the use of that data to inform placement in community-based treatment – is unprecedented nationally,” said Michael Thompson, Director of the CSG Justice Center. “This approach will affect thousands of adults with mental illnesses each year, and has a real chance to reduce the prevalence of mental illnesses in the city's jail population — results to date that have eluded not just officials in New York City, but sheriffs, judges, and mental health advocates everywhere. We are eager for policymakers across the country to learn from this CIRT approach.”

Through the CIRT program, the City’s Departments of Correction and Health and Mental Hygiene will gather and relay information on each eligible defendant’s mental health status, risk of flight (failure to appear in court as directed) and risk of re-offense to the court-based teams to work with defense attorneys on rapid referrals to appropriate programming and supervision. The initiative will demonstrate how jurisdictions can use risk information to connect defendants with appropriate care in a less restrictive setting than jail, with the goals of decreasing the length of detention for defendants with mental health issues and reducing their likelihood of re-offending after release from jail.

The City has identified the following providers to deliver borough-based CIRT services, subject to contract processing and registration:

  • Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES) in Manhattan
  • Center for Court Innovation (CCI) and the Education and Assistance Corporation (EAC) in the Bronx
  • The Fortune Society in Queens
  • Education and Assistance Corporation (EAC) in Staten Island
  • Center for Court Innovation (CCI) and the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES) in Brooklyn

Mayor Bloomberg announced the new program one year ago in December 2012, following progress made by the Mayor's Steering Committee of the Citywide Justice and Mental Health Initiative which first met September 2011. Co-chaired by Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda Gibbs and Chief Policy Advisor John Feinblatt, the Committee focused on the question of why, even as crime has decreased and the jail population has declined, the percentage of incarcerated mentally ill has risen. Committee members included Department of Correction Commissioner Dora Schriro, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Thomas Farley, Department of Administration for Children’s Service Ronald Richter, Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond, Health and Hospitals Corporation President Alan Aviles, Department of Probation Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi, and representatives from the criminal defense community, the City’s district attorneys' offices, community-based organizations, and the judiciary.


Marc La Vorgna/Samantha Levine (212) 788-2958

Ryan Dodge (Probation) (212) 361-8957

Eldin Villafane (Correction) (718) 546-0898