Nearly 900 New York City inmates could be released prior to Christmas before the bail-reform law takes effect in January.
Christopher Wildeman, policy analysis and management professor, studies the consequences of mass imprisonment for inequality, with emphasis on families, health, and children. He says while the inmates’ potential release would be a victory for both the defendants and their families, it’s important to be mindful of those reacclimating to life outside jail during a sometimes-stressful time of year.
“This massive reduction in pretrial detention is likely to set a precedent across the nation for reduced incarceration rates for those not yet convicted of a crime. For the individuals who are no longer locked behind bars while they are awaiting trial, this represents a significant victory.
“It likely also represents a significant victory for their loved ones – children, romantic partners, siblings, and parents. But it’s important to be mindful of exactly what it means to re-introduce someone to family life during a stressful time of year. The immediate lead-in to the holidays is not exactly easy for most of us, and could be compounded with limited pre-release planning, including limited educational, mental health, and addiction programming.
“Programs like this will work best when we treat those released from jail not as social isolates but as individuals returning to a high-risk set of broader social relations.”