According to the plan, announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, all defendants who have been held at Rikers for more than a year will have a trial date or plea deal within 45 days.
The goal is to resolve 50 percent of those cases within six months. It was not clear how many cases fall into this category.
The city will also fix its confusing and overburdened summonses system to make sure defendants are not held on failure to appear charges.
A new form that makes the court appearance date easier to understand along with reminders and more flexible scheduling are some of the changes.
“Improving the quality of justice and fostering public trust and confidence in our justice system are critical objectives that the courts, law enforcement and the defense bar all share,” Lippman said in a statement.
Although the number of summonses issued last year is down 35 percent from 2009, the 359,000 summonses issued city-wide in 2014 was equal to the number of arrests.
Half of all criminal court cases involve summonses but only 27 percent of summonses issued last year resulted in a conviction. At the same time, 38 percent of summons issued resulted in a warrant for failure to appear in court.
In a statement, de Blasio said the changes were "about rethinking the way we approach criminal justice."
“Today’s changes are part of my long-term commitment to bring the criminal justice system into the 21st century, safely drive down the number of people behind bars, and make the system fairer," he added.
The moves were applauded by criminal justice reform groups such as VOCAL-NY and the New York Civil Liberties Union.
“When over 1 million New Yorkers have outstanding warrants for low-level violations, something is amiss," said Alyssa Aguilera, political director of VOCAL-NY. "A summons should be used to avoid unnecessary arrests, not to perpetuate them."