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Jamie Fellner, Senior Counsel at Human Rights Watch's US Program, talks about her new report "The Price of Freedom" on the iniquities in the city's bail system.
Currently, presumed innocent citizens who are accused of minor non-violent crimes are thrown into jail if they aren't wealthy enough to afford bail. This is both WASTEFUL AND UNJUST.
Instead of bail or jail, ALL people accused of non-violent crimes should be offered thealternative of wearing a GPS ANKLE BRACELET that will continuously reporttheir location to authorities.
This will be far kinder and more just.It will also save the city and state MILLIONS of Dollars a year in NEEDLESSexpenses (it costs over $40,000 per yearin direct expenses per person in jail).
THE CITY AND STATE SHOULD ACT TO MAKE GPS ANKLE BRACELETS AND ALTERNATIVE TO BAIL or JAIL!
This will be far kinder and more just.It will also save the city and state MILLIONS of Dollars a year in NEEDLESSexpenses (if costs over $40,000 per yearin direct expenses per person in jail).
THE CITY AND STATE SHOULD ACT TO MAKE GPS ANKLE BRACELETS AND ALTERNATIVE TO BAIL or JAIL.
In 2007, City Limits released an investigative report on how New York City's bail system punishes the poor that echoes many of the findings announced in the Human Rights Watch Report. Here's a link to the article: http://www.citylimits.org/news/articles/4234/report-nyc-s-bail-system-punishes-the-poor.
For future reference, NPR aired a long story a few months ago about the national impact of bail and bail bond companies. In some areas bail bond companies essentially have written guidelines that provide them business. The story also reported on the overbroad imposition of bail as contributing to homelessness: persons without the assets or credit to make bail first lose their jobs while awaiting trial, then lose their homes. Often, for the sake of a $500 bail, the jurisdiction foots a bill adding up to far more, thanks to overloaded court dockets.
Again, it would be worth reviewing that excellent story.
What "Becky" doesn't get is that you don't even have to be in trouble to be arrested and put in jail these days. With the "productivity" quotas now mandated on police officers, you may be arrested simply because an officer didn't make his weekly arrest quota. The person will be charged with "disorderly conduct".
Also, understand that bail is the latest way that municipalities make money.
In the Bronx, setting bail is a rarity. Even in assaults and felony cases, the vast, vast majority of defendants leave court with no set bail, even those with long criminal records. Large narcotics cases can be handled in the borough of the arrest, or at Special Narcotics in Manhattan. Cops frequently will take larger cases to special narcotics because a Manhattan judge is MUCH more likely to set bail than a Bronx judge (and the defendant will receive a much harsher punishment than in the Bronx).
If bail bondspersons won't take a $100 fee, it suggests that their experience has been that it is insufficient to deter bail-jumping.
Stay outta trouble! Don't steal from the bodega, don't jump the turnstyle etc....that should take care of the problem.
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Brian Lehrer leads the conversation about what matters most now in local and national politics, our own communities and our lives.
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