Data Collaborative For Justice Releases New Research On Desk Appearance Tickets In NY State In 2018

Today, the Data Collaborative for Justice (DCJ) at John Jay College, with support from Arnold Ventures, released new research on Desk Appearance Tickets (DATs) for New York State in 2018. This new brief establishes essential baselines that will help DCJ to assess the impact of New York’s 2020 criminal justice reforms and the COVID-19 pandemic on the use of DATs.

DATs are an alternative to a traditional, custodial arrest. Rather than remain in police custody for up to 24 hours until their first appearance in court (“arraignment”), a person who receives a DAT is released from police custody. The DAT recipient is then free to return to their community, job, and family until their scheduled arraignment, which can take place up to several weeks later.

New York’s criminal justice reforms made considerable changes to the laws governing the issuance of DATs. As of January 1, 2020, police officers are now required to issue DATs for all non-felony offenses and most class E felony offenses with some exceptions. Prior to this change, for the same categories of offenses, police departments had the discretion to issue DATs.

These changes have taken on new significance in the era of COVID-19. Individuals who receive a DAT are not held in custody before their arraignment, limiting contact with police, other individuals that have been arrested, and court actors.


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“Particularly in this era of social and physical distancing, where close human contact is dangerous for the community at large, many police departments are considering alternatives to traditional arrests,” said Erica Bond, Chief Policy Strategist at the Data Collaborative for Justice. “This data will lead to key insights about the effectiveness of those alternatives at a time when they could ensure people’s survival.”

The research found that, prior to New York’s 2020 criminal justice reforms, in 2018:

  • Police departments frequently used their discretion to issue DATs instead of making custodial arrests – 30.2% of all 2018 misdemeanor and felony arraignments involved DATs.
  • There was significant geographic variation in the issuance of DATs. Only 22.5% of arraignments in New York City were DATs. In contrast, 59.7% of arraignments in Suburban New York City (Westchester, Suffolk and Nassau Counties) were DATs.
  • Statewide, there was variability in the rate at which police issued DATs for eligible charges. In 2018, police officers issued DATs for more than 50% of marijuana and vehicle/driving-related charges (e.g., unlicensed operation of a vehicle, driving while intoxicated) and almost 1/3 of “property-related” charges (those involving damage to or theft of property). In contrast, only 10.2% of arraignments for “person-related” charges (those involving actual or threatened physical harm to a person) were DATs rather than custodial arrests.
  • Statewide, the overwhelming majority of DAT recipients (85%) showed up for arraignment, though rates of appearance did vary by geography. Suburban New York City had the highest average appearance rate (~94%), followed by Upstate New York (~85%) and New York City (~77%).

In the future, DCJ will publish further research that examines changes in DAT arraignments for 2019 as well as post-implementation of the 2020 DAT Reforms.

“We’re currently living through an unprecedented moment in time, both in terms of criminal justice reform and the global pandemic that is deeply impacting the criminal justice system,” said Preeti Chauhan, director of the Data Collaborative for Justice. “Both of those moments can certainly be better understood in retrospect through data and analysis. DCJ is publishing research and data about alternatives to custodial arrests, including how often they are used, for which charges, and how frequently people show up to court, to help the public, criminal justice practitioners and policymakers consider how these alternatives can support safer and healthier communities in the era of Covid-19.”

Read the research brief here: datacollaborativeforjustice.org/work/communities/desk-appearance-tickets-in-new-york-state-in-2018/

The Data Collaborative for Justice (DCJ) leads critical research about frequent interactions between community members and the criminal justice system and aims to ensure that communities, and the governments that serve them, have the necessary information to develop and implement evidence-based policies, practices, and programs.

DCJ’s work has informed policy reforms, facilitated partnerships between researchers and government agencies across the country, spurred new scholarly research on lower-level enforcement, and been cited extensively in the press. More information about the Data Collaborative for Justice’s work is available at: www.datacollaborativeforjustice.org

Arnold Ventures is a philanthropy dedicated to tackling some of the most pressing problems in the United States. Founded by Laura and John Arnold in 2010, Arnold Ventures’ core mission is to improve lives by investing in evidence-based solutions that maximize opportunity and minimize injustice. More information about Arnold Venture’s work is available at www.arnoldventures.org.

An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York is a Hispanic Serving Institution and Minority Serving Institution offering a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations.

John Jay is home to faculty and research centers at the forefront of advancing criminal and social justice reform. In teaching, scholarship and research, the College engages the theme of justice and explores fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law.

For more information, visit www.jjay.cuny.edu

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