Bail is Busted: How Jail Really Works

Thousands of New Yorkers are stuck behind bars because they're too broke to get out

Bail is Busted: How Jail Really Works
John Hersey

Lauren DiGioia's face was stony and impassive beneath bright blue hair as she was brought into a courtroom in handcuffs on March 18.

At 2:30 the previous afternoon, DiGioia, 27, had become the first person arrested by the New York City Police Department during Occupy Wall Street's six-month anniversary at Zuccotti Park. DiGioia was taken in for dancing on the public sidewalk outside the park after police told her not to.

"Four police officers forced me to my knees," DiGioia recalls. "They put the zip cuffs on really tight, and then they threw me in the paddy wagon."

Unlike her cell mates, Occupier Lauren DiGioia, arrested for dancing on the sidewalk, had access to bail.
C.S. Muncy
Unlike her cell mates, Occupier Lauren DiGioia, arrested for dancing on the sidewalk, had access to bail.
DiGioia says her time in jail showed her how different the criminal-justice system is for her less fortunate cell mates.
C.S. Muncy
DiGioia says her time in jail showed her how different the criminal-justice system is for her less fortunate cell mates.
As head of the Criminal Justice Agency, Jerome McElroy keeps the numbers that show just how unfair the administration of bail in New York is.
C.S. Muncy
As head of the Criminal Justice Agency, Jerome McElroy keeps the numbers that show just how unfair the administration of bail in New York is.
At 100 Center Street, arrestees 
pass through central booking and face their critical first court appearance: the arraignment.
Sasha Patkin
At 100 Center Street, arrestees pass through central booking and face their critical first court appearance: the arraignment.
Moira Meltzer-Cohen is part of the team planning protest actions 
to call attention to the need for bail reform.
C.S. Muncy
Moira Meltzer-Cohen is part of the team planning protest actions to call attention to the need for bail reform.

DiGioia was initially taken to the Seventh Precinct, but because she was being charged with resisting arrest along with disorderly conduct, she was moved to central booking and thrown into a cell holding about 35 other women. Charismatic and garrulous, DiGioia was soon talking with the other inmates.

"A lot of the women I met that night were in on really minor charges," she says. "Marijuana, petty theft, getting in a fight in a nightclub. They were sort of shocked that I'd been arrested for dancing on the sidewalk, but it didn't surprise them because they see stuff like that in their marginalized neighborhoods—people stop-and-frisked and profiled for the way they look."

After a night and the better part of a day in jail, DiGioia looked tired in court as the assistant district attorney read out the charges. Her lawyer said she didn't wish to make a plea, and the judge ordered her released without bail until her next hearing.

"One coming out!" a court officer shouted as another unlocked her handcuffs and pointed her through the gate to the court gallery.

DiGioia cleared the swinging doors, and a dozen fellow protesters sitting on benches in the gallery stood and moved, arms outstretched, toward her. As DiGioia approached them, her composure cracked and collapsed, and she broke down, doubling over in tears and falling into their arms.

The group moved quickly to the hallway outside of the court, where DiGioia tried to explain to her comrades that she was fine.

"I'm OK," she insisted. "I'm OK. It's just . . . the other women. I met some amazing women in my cell last night, and I just know they're not going to have anyone waiting for them when they're arraigned. They're not going to have a lawyer. They're not going to have anyone posting bail. They're not going to have anyone watching. It's not right."

A few weeks later, DiGioia was more composed while describing her experience but clearly still affected. "It was just really sad to see the difference," she says. "We were all there together at first, but then because I had a lawyer and access to bail and they didn't, we went down these separate tracks. I watched a lot of women get left behind, and it broke my heart."

As the Occupy Wall Street movement has introduced a new young generation of mostly white, mostly middle-class activists to civil disobedience, arrest, jail, and the inner workings of the criminal-justice system, they're learning firsthand what New York's poor, black, and immigrant communities have known for years: The criminal-justice system is rotten.

Stop-and-frisk policing might be the highly visible doorway into the system, filling jail cells and court dockets with poor black and brown New Yorkers on mostly minor charges. But it's in court—and specifically at arraignment—where the full discriminatory weight of the justice apparatus is brought to bear.

It is a central tenet of American justice that as these arrests enter the court system, people are innocent until they are proved guilty. But the open secret of New York's criminal courts is that there simply aren't enough judges, prosecutors, and hours in the day to give each of these defendants a fair chance to prove their innocence, to challenge the evidence against them, and to mount a defense.

New York's criminal courts are underfunded and overwhelmed with cases—more and more of them misdemeanors and minor offenses as the NYPD pursues its so-called broken-window strategy.

If even a fraction of those presumed innocent fought their cases in court, the system would grind to a halt. To keep things moving, judges and prosecutors need defendants to plead guilty to something as early in the process as possible. And the single most powerful tool to extract a guilty plea is the threat of bail.

In the state of New York, bail can only legitimately be set for one reason: to ensure that a defendant will return to court for his or her next hearing. But everyone who works in criminal justice in New York City knows that's not what's going on at all.

For no particular reason other than institutional habit and a fondness for round numbers, bail in New York is generally set in increments of $250 and, more commonly, $500. In 40 percent of cases where bail was set in 2010, it was $1,000 or less.

Some people wouldn't have much trouble coming up with $1,000. If they don't have it themselves, they have friends, a family, and a community that could scrape it together. But those aren't the people who make up the overwhelming majority of criminal defendants.

In 2010, only 17 percent of those held on $1,000 or less made bail at arraignment. The rest stayed locked up. Some posted bail later, but half of them remained in a jail cell until their cases were disposed of. The figure is almost as bad for people held on $500 or less: Forty-four percent of them—all presumed innocent, remember—stayed in jail until their case was decided, simply because they couldn't make bail.

Jail is an unpleasant place to be. But avoiding a pre-trial stint at Rikers is only one reason many defendants would rather plead guilty to a lesser charge and walk out of court with nothing more than a criminal record and a sentence for time served.

"These people have families," says Robin Steinberg, executive director of the Bronx Defenders, a nonprofit that offers legal services in the Bronx. "They have children they need to care for. They have jobs that they're going to lose if they don't show up for work. It doesn't matter whether they're innocent—there's a whole range of subsequent damage to their lives and the lives of people close to them if they're held on bail."

If you're not in this country legally, there are added stakes: Pleading out at arraignment is your last best hope of avoiding deportation. Once at Rikers, your immigration status is almost certain to be screened and passed on to Immigration and Customs agents.

Faced with such high stakes, it's no wonder that so many defendants cave when prosecutors mention bail.

"It happens all the time," Steinberg says. "We see clients at arraignment not wanting to plea, saying they want to fight their case. Then they hear the bail that the prosecutor is going to ask for, and they'll turn to their defense lawyer and say, 'I'll take the plea.'"

This use of bail has been an integral part of the justice system for decades. But recently, there has been a renewed push to return bail to its statutory purpose and make sure that no one stays behind bars just for being poor. Some, such as the Bronx Defenders, are pursuing reform through education and impact litigation. Others, like Occupy Wall Street affiliates, are contemplating direct actions that will test the courts' commitment to justice.

In the city that never sleeps, there are courtrooms processing arraignments and setting bails every day of the week, at every hour of the day and night. The arraignment is the moment when an arrestee becomes a defendant, when he's handed off from Jerry Orbach's realm of Order to Sam Waterston's world of Law. Interestingly, most court procedurals on film and television spend little time on the arraignment, if they show it at all. As a result, most people have little understanding of what actually happens at an arraignment. And that's too bad, Steinberg says, because "the arraignment is actually the most important proceeding in the entire process. What happens in the arraignment determines everything that comes afterward."

Spending a day or a night in an arraignment court is as disturbing as it is edifying. Prisoners are brought into the courtroom and processed in a matter of minutes. A judge can easily decide the fates of more than a dozen defendants in an hour. Here's how the process usually goes:

Recently arrested people are brought from lockup and wait outside the courtroom for their case to be called. This is the time when most of them first meet the lawyer assigned to their cases, a harried public defender with a stack of folders more than a foot high on her table. They talk for a few minutes, and then the court officer calls the case number. The prosecutor may make an offer for a plea bargain. If he doesn't or if it's refused, the court turns its attention to the question of bail.

The defense lawyer, the assistant district attorney, and the judge all have the same paperwork: the current charges, the defendant's rap sheet, and a bail recommendation from the Criminal Justice Agency, a nonprofit that interviews everyone before he or she is arraigned.

In making its bail recommendations, the CJA is essentially evaluating a defendant's flight risk. If a defendant is released, will he skip out on the next hearing and go on the lam? To make those recommendations, the agency asks six questions, meant to ascertain his ties to the community and his priors, of every defendant. Based on that information, the agency assigns each defendant a score that ranges from -12 to 12 and makes its best guess for the court. In roughly a third of cases, the CJA recommends that defendants be released without bail on their own recognizance. In around half of the cases, it recommends against release on own recognizance (ROR). About a fifth of the time, it classifies a defendant as a moderate risk and recommends that bail be set.

But the CJA's recommendation is hardly the final word on whether bail will be set for a defendant. According to the agency's own data, the most influential factor in whether bail is set and in what amount is what the prosecutor asks for. If prosecutors ask for a high bail, defendants are unlikely to be ROR'd, and the judge will probably set the bail high. What the defense says matters much less.

The law sets out a number of factors that may be considered when determining if someone is a flight risk: character and reputation; employment; ties to the community; criminal record; whether there are prior missed court appearances; the strength of the evidence; and how serious the sentence might be in a finding of guilt.

Perhaps citing some of these factors to support their arguments, the prosecutor and the defense attorney each make a suggestion to the judge. Sometimes other factors creep in, too. Last month, prosecutors asked for bail for defendants because they hadn't submitted to the NYPD's optional iris scans.

After hearing from both sides, the judge schedules the next appearance and announces whether bail will be set. The judge isn't required to explain his or her reasoning, and most don't.

Nestled in a warren of offices on Duane Street, across Foley Square from the city's courts, is the untidy desk of Jerome McElroy, the director of the Criminal Justice Agency.

McElroy is avuncular and unbelievably talkative—his wall bears a fake diploma his daughters made for him that is issued by the "University of Loquacity." And McElroy has a lot to talk about: His organization is sitting on the most massive, comprehensive database of criminal-justice statistics you've never heard of, and the picture that data paints isn't pretty.

Getting good information from the criminal-justice system isn't always easy. The NYPD is notorious for its opacity, for stalling Freedom of Information requests, and for finessing its own statistics. But if you want a vivid picture of what happens to New Yorkers after they're arrested, just ask McElroy.

For 35 years, the CJA has held a city contract to screen every single person being held for criminal arraignment in New York City, interview them, and make a recommendation to the court about setting bail.

That means the CJA has information on every single one of the 300,000 arraignments made in criminal court each year, data all the more valuable because the agency also tracks those cases through the system to their final disposition.

Here are some of the things the data from 2010 show: Eighty-four percent of criminal defendants were male; 43 percent had full-time employment or were in school full-time; half of them were black; and another third were Hispanic.

At arraignment, about half of the cases are disposed of. In those cases, more than half of the defendants pleaded guilty, with most of the rest either being dismissed or getting an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, in which the case goes away as long as the defendant stays out of trouble for a set period of time.

In the cases that aren't resolved at arraignment, a tiny handful of defendants deemed especially risky are remanded without bail. Two-thirds of defendants are released on their own recognizance with no bail set while they await their next hearing. And the remaining third have some bail set. The percentage of cases in which bail is set is small, but what it adds up to is this: In 2010, more than 8,000 people had bail set at $1,000 or less and stayed in jail for the days or weeks until their case was resolved simply because they didn't have the money to get out.

Also, the data show that being stuck in a cell has a statistically significant effect on the outcome of your case. A CJA analysis found that 51 percent of those released at arraignment on non-felony charges were ultimately convicted. For those who stayed in jail as their case proceeded, the conviction rate shot up to 78 percent. Those who stayed in jail all the way until their cases were resolved were convicted 92 percent of the time.

"It's like a law of physics," says David Feige, author of Indefensible: One Lawyer's Journey Into the Inferno of American Justice. "A person incarcerated tends to stay incarcerated. A person at liberty tends to stay at liberty. When you're out, you're negotiating from a position of power; you're much less likely to take a plea that puts you back in jail. When you're in, it's just the opposite."

Keeping people in jail before their trials isn't cheap. When Human Rights Watch investigated the use of bail several years ago, it found there were 16,649 non-felony defendants in jail because they couldn't post a bail of $1,000 or less. With an average stay of 15.7 days and a daily cost of $161, the investigators calculated that those detentions cost taxpayers more than $42 million.

There's one statistic the CJA doesn't capture because there's no record of it anywhere: how often prosecutors threaten bail but it isn't set because a defendant opts instead to take a plea. What we do know, though, is that the overwhelming majority of convictions in misdemeanor cases—99.6 percent—come not because the defendant was found guilty at trial but rather because they pleaded guilty.

"Bail is the tool that gets those results," Feige says. "It's not the legal purpose of bail, but to put it in pharmaceutical terms, it's an off-label use."

If the bail regime is against New York law, unjustifiably expensive, and patently unfair, why does it persist?

"It's a good question," says the CJA's McElroy. "When you talk about comprehensive bail reform, you get into questions of who the hell wants it. And who doesn't want it."

Defense attorneys mostly agree that the system is problematic, but they're worried about what might replace it. If the courts expanded the supervised-release pilot program being tested in Queens, it might reduce the number of people jailed for want of bail, but it might also lead to more oppressive state supervision of people who would otherwise have been released on their own recognizance.

"When you talk to prosecutors, there's more resistance," McElroy says. "'Are you talking about a system in which the bail imposed has to be makeable by the defendant? Doesn't appear to be in my interest, because you and I and everyone else knows that I have a better chance of getting a conviction if the guy is in than if he's out.'"

It isn't just the drive for convictions that motivates prosecutor interest in maintaining the status quo, though. For one thing, guilty pleas are the only tools prosecutors have to redirect defendants into Alternative to Incarceration Programs for substance abusers and battered women.

And speaking of battered women, how would bail reform affect the guy who's being arraigned because he beat up his girlfriend last night, and she finally called the police? Right now, a judge can set a high bail and make sure he cools off for a while before he's back on the street. That isn't a legally allowed use of bail, but because there isn't any mechanism in New York for preventive detention, it's the only way to keep him locked up. Understandably, prosecutors don't want to lose that tool.

Then there are the judges. The present regime gives them a great deal of freedom: They don't have to explain their bail decisions, and they're not held accountable for them. But the thing that really motivates judges' reluctance to change the bail system isn't freedom. It's terror.

In the back of every judge's mind is the fear of finding themselves on the cover of the New York Post for releasing a pre-trial defendant who goes on to commit some terrible crime while awaiting his or her next hearing. The most recent member of the bench to go through that wringer was Brooklyn judge Evelyn Laporte, who last winter was slammed in a Post story headlined "Why Was He Freed to Kill?" after a man whom she'd released on his own recognizance for a felony drug case killed a police officer the next month.

As an anonymous judge told Human Rights Watch, "Judges set bail knowing they will never be criticized publicly for putting someone in jail, only for letting someone out without bail who then commits a crime." With every reason to play it safe, judges and prosecutors have no structural incentive to let defendants out to fight their cases from home.

"There's a lot of momentum against changing anything," Feige says. "Stacked up against those institutional interests, the poor and disadvantaged communities who make up most criminal defendants don't have much of a chance."

Despite the challenges, reformists are pursuing a range of strategies to fix the system. One of them is the Criminal Justice Agency itself, which is running a pilot project in Queens to take defendants for whom bail would otherwise be set and instead free them on supervised release. These defendants don't have to post bail, but they do have to check in regularly with CJA staff members, who in turn help set them up with social services and remind them when their court date is coming up. The program is less expensive than pre-trial detention, and so far, its participants have a better rate of returning to court than the city average. The CJA's McElroy is optimistic that the city will eventually expand the pilot program, but just when that might happen remains unclear.

The Bronx Defenders took a more aggressively experimental tack several years ago when, with little fanfare, they quietly spun off a nonprofit called the Bronx Freedom Fund.

After raising around $200,000, the fund began doing something at once simple and completely revolutionary: It bailed people out. When lawyers at the Bronx Defenders took on a client who couldn't make bail but wasn't considered a flight risk and wasn't charged with anything more serious than a misdemeanor or a nonviolent felony, they would refer him to Zoe Towns, the fund's only employee. If the defendant met the criteria, Towns would go down to the courthouse with a certified check and bail him out. When the defendant returned to court for his next hearing and the bail came back, it would be rolled back into the fund to help someone else.

The fund kept a low profile, in large part because its advisers worried that if judges and prosecutors knew that it existed, they might inflate bails to keep people in jail. But over the course of more than a year, the fund bailed out nearly 200 people. That was a tremendous boon for the defendants who could go home rather than stay locked up, but the project also generated some remarkable data.

First, the fund's numbers gave the lie to the assumption that defendants won't return to court if they don't have a personal relationship with the people posting bail for them. Ninety-three percent of the fund's clients showed up for every single one of their subsequent court hearings—a return rate higher than that of defendants who post their own bail or get commercial bail bonds.

But the really shocking revelation of the Freedom Fund experiment was this: More than half of the fund's clients eventually saw their cases either completely dismissed or knocked down to some noncriminal disposition. Not a single one ever went back to jail on the charges for which they were bailed out.

Without access to a bail fund, defendants in similar positions pleaded guilty to criminal charges 95 percent of the time. The fund's numbers made wincingly clear what everyone had already vaguely known: The current bail system has the direct effect of slapping criminal convictions on poor people who would otherwise win their cases.

The experiment didn't last. Eventually, a judge discovered the existence of the program and launched an investigation, ultimately ruling that the fund was illegal because it was effectively operating as an uninsured bail-bond company.

The fund was shuttered, but the Bronx Defenders didn't give up. Instead, they launched an education initiative, training judges and lawyers about aspects of bail law that are almost universally ignored. Almost without exception, New York judges only set two kinds of bail at arraignment: straight cash or commercial bail bond. But New York statute actually lays out eight different forms of acceptable bail.

Partially secured bonds, for example, let a defendant or someone else promise to pay the full bail if they miss their next court date while only having to put up a tenth of the full amount on the spot. Unsecured bonds let a defendant or someone else assume responsibility for the full amount without having to front anything.

"Nobody uses these other forms of bail," says Steinberg of the Bronx Defenders. "And what we often find is that, even with judges, they didn't even know these options exist."

But education only goes so far. In 2009, a judge in one of the Bronx Defenders' cases set a cash bail of $20,000 and refused to set any alternative bail, including a commercial bail bond. The defenders appealed and last month won a major victory: Judges have to set at least two forms of bail, the higher court ruled.

"Providing flexible bail alternatives to pre-trial detainees—who are presumptively innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt—is consistent with the underlying purpose of [the law]," the Court of Appeals wrote in a decision known as McManus v. Horn.

"There's no excuse for a system that is relying on cash bail when criminal-procedure law allows so many other options," Steinberg says. "The McManus decision really opens up that conversation."

But the ruling isn't everything bail-reform advocates might dream of. In a sort of winking aside, the court reassures judges who might be nervous that providing bail alternatives will make it easier for defendants to go free: Fear not, the court writes, because the law allows judges to order "a second type of bail, that, in effect, may be virtually indistinguishable from the cash option." That is to say: Set cash bail at $20,000, set a partially secured appearance bond at $200,000, and either way, the defendant still has to come up with $20,000 to get out. It's hardly progress.

There's another serious limitation to the McManus ruling: Most judges will likely offer commercial bail bonds as their second option, since it's what they're most familiar with. But the market for commercial bail bonds doesn't really exist for $500 and $1,000 bails—bondsmen just can't make enough money on them to make it worth their while.

So for the poorest defendants most in need of bail reform, the McManus ruling might not do much at all.

"Our hope is that judges will use this decision to not only set two forms of bail but to also consider the other forms of bonds," says Marika Meis, the Bronx Defenders lawyer who litigated the McManus case. "But is there still a lot of work to be done? Absolutely."

While institutional advocates like the Bronx Defenders pursue their own reforms, there's pressure mounting from other corners for a more direct intervention.

Almost since its inception, the Occupy Wall Street movement has had its own tangles with the criminal-justice system, most dramatically when, two weeks into its existence, police arrested more than 700 people on the Brooklyn Bridge. In the six months since then, across more than 2,200 arrests, Occupiers have had further opportunity to see the system from the inside. Many activists have been arrested half a dozen times and spent many nights in lockup in Manhattan precinct houses or the Tombs, the Manhattan Detention Complex, once named for Bernie Kerik.

But Occupiers' experiences in jail are radically different from those of their cell mates. Most Occupiers are coming to jail from a position of privilege—they're white, they have some sort of education, and they come from a middle-class background. They also have the support of their movement, which takes many forms.

From early on, Occupiers have organized jail support—teams of people ready with food, cigarettes, MetroCards, and emotional care who wait outside the precincts or sit in arraignment court.

"Being in jail is a form of trauma," says Moira Meltzer-Cohen, a City University of New York law student who works with Occupy Wall Street's Activist Legal Working Group. "You're stripped of your freedom, and you're often not treated very nicely. It's important for the Occupiers to recognize that their experience probably doesn't begin to compare to what more vulnerable people experience, but it's still traumatic, and it's hard to put a value on having friendly faces when you get out."

People arrested in the course of Occupy actions also have even more tangible advantages. For one, they have legal representation from the National Lawyers Guild, rather than having to rely on overworked public defenders. For another, like the members of many social-protest movements before them, they bail each other out.

Occupy Wall Street's decision-making body, the New York General Assembly, has allocated thousands of dollars toward bail and developed a smooth-running system for making sure protesters never have to languish in a cell for want of cash.

Most protesters are let off with a desk-appearance ticket or are released at arraignment on their own recognizance. But in some cases, the judge sets bail, and when that happens, a member of the movement's Accounting Working Group is on hand with cash at the ready.

It's a system that has worked well for the Occupiers, who are then free to fight their cases from a position of freedom.

"I can't tell you how many Occupy protesters I've spoken to who have told me a story about their time in jail, talking with other people who are in there for something stupid like a stop-and-frisk arrest or something, and how much that stays with them," says Matt McCoy, a 26-year-old who has been involved with the movement since its first day. "For a lot of us, that arrest isn't going to wreck our lives, and that's not necessarily true for the other people in there."

That uncomfortable awareness percolated among Occupiers for months, and as the movement began its planning for a range of May Day actions, some of them decided to do something about it. Occupy had already spun off numerous projects targeted at specific problems, including one that addressed banks' criminal responsibility for the foreclosure crisis by taking over foreclosed homes in East New York and installing homeless families in them.

McCoy, Meltzer-Cohen, and half a dozen others saw an opportunity to do something similar for the criminal-justice system, to call attention to the way bail is used to force guilty pleas and to keep people locked up for no other crime than their poverty. It would be a way for Occupiers to reach beyond their movement.

In its early meetings, the group, calling itself Bail Out New York, contemplated an organized effort to post cash bail for as many non-Occupy-affiliated criminal defendants as it could afford to. There were some legal problems with that strategy, though, so now they're contemplating alternatives. Among them is a mass action building on the Bronx Defenders' recent legal victory. 

One of the little-used options for bail allows for someone else to stand as surety for a defendant, putting no money down up front but pledging to pay the full amount if the defendant misses a court date.

"One of the options we're looking at is getting a lot of people into an arraignment court and one by one having them stand up for defendants and say, 'Judge, if you'll set an unsecured bond, I'll stand surety,'" Meltzer-Cohen says. "Either the judges would go with it, which would be new and great, or they'd be on record refusing it, basically saying, 'We'd rather keep this person locked up than let him out on a legally permissible form of bail.'"

Bail Out New York is still working through some obstacles to this plan—finding many people willing to put their bank accounts on the line for $1,000 for a stranger might be more easily said than done—but the group is determined to do something.

"This is one of the most destructive, discriminatory parts of the criminal-justice system," McCoy says. "It ruins individual lives and whole communities. And we're at a moment where there's a real potential for change. We just have to figure out the right places to push."

npinto@villagevoice.com

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89 comments
Jb411207
Jb411207

Greetings from Texas. So, in addition to ignoring the 2nd Amendment NYC ignores the 8th Amendment. Kelly is standartenfuhrer of a fascist city state. Bloomberg is fuhrer. F NY.

Les Legato
Les Legato

Empty the jails and send all the "alleged" criminals to the VV offices. If there isn't enough room let them squat in Williamsburg!

acpkingstaff
acpkingstaff

ok heres another great necessary article The Village Voice Should Look into and Publicize Conditions On Rikers Island!!! There Is Suspicion That Riker's Island causes Cancer!!!! It Is Built on a Landfill!!Inmates who serve any Length of time on this God ForSakin Island Beware!!!Look at The Rates of cancer On Correction Officers who Have Worked all thir Lives on that landfill How many Inmates Have been Exposed also .This Is the Biggest Secret New York wants to Hide Investigate it Now!!!!!

SNAKESRULE
SNAKESRULE

tough shit losers...don't break the law, don't go to jail.

Kevin
Kevin

duh, if you have money you have privilege, welcome to the real world.

 << Work at home, $35/h, link
<< Work at home, $35/h, link

Know thyself, said the old philosopher, improve thyself, saith the new. Our great object in time is not to waste our passions and gifts on the things external that we must leave behind, but that we cultivate within us all that we can carry into the et

Die
Die

I have blue hair that was popular in 1982, and I identify with the oppressed man, wow, yeah, the vilage voice and "downtown scene" baby yeah it's so awesome people who can't use their brain at all they make such awesome music the way they can't play an instrument or do anything else yeah man the downtown scene blue hair baby yeay

hermadite
hermadite

Feeling sorry for a few small potatoes trapped by our injustice system doesn't deserve much attention. Rather, let's elevate our sights on a larger picture, namely the National Debt. It's now in the trillions, and will get worse before it gets better. Therefore, why doesn't President Obama release all 2.2 million incarcerated prisoners and give them seven days in wish to be adopted by an American family, or put to sleep. Why? Because it costs our government $60,000 a year to house, feed, guard, entertain and rehabilitate each convict. Once the cells are empty, they can be used to hold the homeless. But this is common sense, something we lost about five decades ago.

Marcy
Marcy

Easy solution for all the people crying out for these poor people who can't manage to go through life without being repeatedly arrested, make bail for them.

That's right, sell the Volvo, cash in the kid's college fund, sell the summer home and go down to court with a briefcase of $100 bills and start making bail for every one of these poor neglected folks who can't make bail and would rather plead out than waste away in jail.

Do it. Then find 10 friends and have them sell their stuff and do the same.

All those nice people you bail out will thank you and you'll get your money back when they show up in court, which they will because they are nice responsible people who just happen to be poor because, well for some reason that surely isn't their fault.

But start with the Volvo. You can sell that this weekend and start bailing out people Monday morning.

Id Rather Not Say
Id Rather Not Say

The Village Voice is a horrible lefty slimeball rag...but even a stopped clock is right twice a day. As a long-time NY investigator, I can confirm the accuracy of most of this article.

Ray Kelly as Mayor would make things even worse.

ageofknowledge
ageofknowledge

This is a good article. We have a serious problem with both not executing the worst of the worst and having way too many petty laws with large fees associated with them. Also, on petty matters there should be a better method of having them expunged for people who only violated one time after say three years.

Here's a good article that talks about this further: http://www.economist.com/node/...

acpkingstaff
acpkingstaff

Rikers Island is built on a landfill. Correction Officers who Work there Die at Higher rates of Cancer Inmates especially the poor who cant afford $1000 bails lay up on this God forsaken island They Must Plead Guilty Just to Get Off This Cancer Causing Hell Please investigate this Tragedy New York is trying to Hide

acpkingstaff
acpkingstaff

Rikers Island is a Health Threat To all Who Are Subjected Correction officers as well as Inmates This is the Biggest Secret The Government in New York City is Hiding Please expose and Investigate this Tragedy

acpkingstaff
acpkingstaff

ok heres another great necessary article The Village Voice Should Look into and Publicize Conditions On Rikers Island!!! There Is Suspicion That Riker's Island causes Cancer!!!! It Is Built on a Landfill!!Inmates who serve any Length of time on this God ForSakin Island Beware!!!Look at The Rates of cancer On Correction Officers who Have Worked all thir Lives on that landfill How many Inmates Have been Exposed also .This Is the Biggest Secret New York wants to Hide Investigate it Now!!!!!

Gengie33
Gengie33

"Keep it real stupid and not get involved in social policy". Sounds like sweet music to the ears of the NWO. !st of all, a limousine liberal does not ever go to jail. They write checks and go on globalist scum TV shows (Charlie Rose) and whine about the state of the world. This woman got arrested and educated herself on the abuses of the system. She felt enough empathy for her fellow human beings to have a life-changing experience. Stev and Jackoff on the other hand are sheeple waiting to be led to slaughter by a system that lets them think they are the chosen people. Stev wishes he had a trust fund and Jackoff made an account based on misspelling foreigner. You 2 will not be the first on the trains to the FEMA camps, but you will be on the list trust me. Just tell them you are a REAL AMERICAN when they come. I'm sure you will get bail. LOL

Stevart
Stevart

Miss DiJoy is a most likely a trust-fund brat who is piling up liberal creds by her supposed sexual harassment, arrest, and any other 15 min. famous gag she can think up. It's limousine liberals like her whose tax-the-rich policies have fostered the underclass through endless gov programs that hinder not help the poor. This chick is a complete fraud. At least Snooki has enough sense to keep it REAL stupid and not get involved with social policy. DiJoy should though be careful what she wishes for. She just might REALLY end up the creek without a trust fund paddle, then you'll see what this &^%$ is made of. It won't be pretty!

Jack Off The Foreignor
Jack Off The Foreignor

Jack the foreigner has jacked off in jail too many times. That's why he cant make his way around this article commenting system.

Jack Foreigner
Jack Foreigner

Seriously, that's your problem with her, the blue hair??

I wonder how you look.

Gunelle
Gunelle

You are incredibly arrogant. I'll respond the same to you as I did to "erik." It is always astounding to me when people make ignorant comments such as this. For someone to get into "trouble with the law" does not always mean they must have done something to merit it. People get arrested all the time for all kinds of reasons not necessarily having anything to do with any actual crime. It's called false accusation, abuse of power, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, etc etc etc. Happens all the time! That is why the very concept of innocent until proven guilty exists! Good for you that you never ended up arrested from being stopped and frisked. Doesn't mean it never happens to others, or that others don't get arrested even though having broken no law.

Paul Jones
Paul Jones

For the most part this article accurately explains how bail works in NYC criminal proceedings. There is little doubt that the granting of bail is not a science but rests firmly in discretion of the court. In my opinion you cannot evaluate the granting of bail on a system wide basis because it is always granted on a case by case basis.

The arrested OWS protesters, regardless of their origin, race, or religion, are more likely to be granted low bail or ROR than other arrestees. The protesters are entering the system not based upon allegations of criminal wrongdoing but because they engaged in acts of civil disobedience. OWS anticipated that their members might be arrested and planned for their legal representation and release on bail. Other members of OWS are in court to witnesses the proceedings and lend moral support to the jailed protester. The average person arrested, regardless of his or her color, does not have the luxury of romanticizing their arrest. They have not been detained, arrested and processed because of a political act of civil disobedience. The arrest and processing of the OWS protesters is totally dissimilar to the arrest of the average person, regardless of their economic status or race.

Emilio Lizardo
Emilio Lizardo

".. how would bail reform affect the guy who's being arraigned because he beat up his girlfriend last night, ..."

Let's instutionalize misandry. A good example of how the court system really goes out of its way to destroy men. Of course the poor girls in the holding cell get the sympathy when 90% of people in those cells are men.

Kylan Hurt
Kylan Hurt

The justice system is more a money-making system than an actual arbiter of justice. Of course most of the news media is scared to criticize the government for fear of retribution.

KalP
KalP

This is the land of equality. Just some people are more equal than others. Those who are less equal are the problem according to the right wing. They persist in working at poorly paid jobs and living in in unsuitable, overpriced tenements. It is those people who give this nation a bad name. Why can't they just mercilessly expoilt others as they are being exploited by the rich?

erik
erik

I know you are supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty but how many of these people are innocent?

A better idea is to just not do things that will get you arrested and avoid the whole mess altogether.

David Wachtel
David Wachtel

Can you please tell me how to get in touch with Bail Out New York if I'd like to support their efforts?

Azel Hill Beckner
Azel Hill Beckner

The bondsmen have a large influence in the political machine. They are the people who profit from the bonds system. Bond is a high interest loan for most people. Beyond the usory laws and any reasonable expectations.

Everly
Everly

@SNAKESRULE That is pretty tough shit when the "law" is as subjective as a police officer arresting someone for dancing on the street. You must not believe in checks and balances. Good thing we're not being ruled by Hitler and that the populous isn't full of people like you. Scary.

Giantnyc
Giantnyc

What an enlightened comment. Please do not procreate.

T_bone_30
T_bone_30

choke on something you piece of trash

JJ
JJ

The time you took to compose and type your sarcastic reply would have been better spent on many other productive tasks. Wealth in this country has been cut nearly in half over the past five years. People fall below the poverty line for legitimate reasons. They get laid off, even after twenty and thirty years with a company. People die, leaving spouses and dependent children. People get sick and can't work. People grow old and disabled. People lose their health insurance or can no longer afford to pay prohibitively expensive premiums, or are under-insured. You missed the point of this article.

Obama Ate Lassie
Obama Ate Lassie

I dream of gengie33 getting gang banged by all the poor prisoners he/she wishes to save.

Stevart
Stevart

"Empathy...fellow man...life changing experience..." Phuleeze...the only thing that changed about this amateur is her hair dye. Just keep the role gov small and arm the citizenry and all be better than this brave new world brain-dead intellects like yourself will create. AND I do wish I had a trust fund and the FEMA camps will come for many which is why supposed anti-capitalist movements like OWS who feed the growth of government are living a self-fulfilling prophesy. Corporations and the free market don't level onerous taxes nor can they imprison you. AND DiJoy is getting involved in social policy like she's trying on a new set of panties.

Jack Foreigner
Jack Foreigner

Ugh, stupid commenting system not nesting replies....

Gunelle
Gunelle

This was in response to "Guest's" comment: "I'll make it easy for you: Don't break the law and you won't have anything to worry about. The cops can stop and frisk you as much as they would like, but if you don't have anything illegal on you, they will let you go your merry way. I've been stopped and frisked over 15 times when I was younger and I never ever had a problem because I never had drugs or weapons on me."

OaklandOccupier
OaklandOccupier

Hi from California!

Paul, I'm curious to know then how NYC differs from other jurisdictions. I'm from Oakland, where Occupy protesters have been arrested and held on very high bails - recently as high as $100K to $150K (the same amount required of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case, for goodness sake!).

These bails are of course impossible to post, so people are forced either to stay inside and await trial (in many cases this takes weeks or months) or to throw away thousands of dollars they don't have on bail bonds.

Then, if/when they are released, many are issued "stay away" orders which prohibit them from going to the former Occupy Oakland camp site - in many cases, even though they have not been convicted of any offense, and even though the offense they were arrested for did not take place at that site.

This appears to be a deliberate strategy by Alameda County DA Nancy O'Malley, and you can bet it is chilling dissent. The bail in itself, especially followed by the stay-away orders, is punitive and flies in the face of the whole "innocent until proven guilty" idea.

I know the Voice article was comprehensive and already quite long, but it would have been worth exploring these facets of the problem.

Occumom the occupy slut
Occumom the occupy slut

kalp, why dont you put up some of your hard earned money to help all these dumb bitches out who are getting arrested 666 times by the man?

Bailout ny
Bailout ny

kalp, I bet you're the type of cheap prick who doesnt even reach around to massage your boyfriend's balls when he's doing you up your butt.

Silkroad
Silkroad

Do you really believe you actually have to "do" something in order to get arrested? God, how terribly naive you are!

Gunelle
Gunelle

It is always astounding to me when people make ignorant comments such as this. For someone to get into "trouble with the law" does not always mean they must have done something to merit it. You think only people who actually commit crimes get arrested? You don't think people ever get arrested without actually having done anything illegal or by being wrongly accused? You don't think the police ever arrest someone simply because the police felt like it (abuse of power) or the person happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? Happens all the time! That is why the very concept of innocent until proven guilty exists! When I see ignorant and, most of all, arrogant comments like these, I really wish the person would end up arrested one day (falsely) and then you'll see. I've been there, and I'm a middle-class educated white woman who never in my life would have expected to find myself arrested and thrown in the slammer. It can happen to the best of us. And the system is incredibly corrupt, it certainly has nothing to do with justice.

Zachary Kamel
Zachary Kamel

This is a legit online donation website that goes directly to members of the OWS Bail Fund and the National Lawyers Guild lawyers that work to bail us out. Thank you for your interest.

https://www.wepay.com/donation...

Bailout ny
Bailout ny

david, the best way you can help those who are stuck in jail without bail is by you getting put into jail----and allowing yourself to be anally raped by lonely prisoners.

Zachary Kamel
Zachary Kamel

You might want to look into the 4th amendment.... It's always good to know the constitution before you make absurd comments such as this.

Mike King
Mike King

I sat in jail for a year for looking like someone. Yes a year, they came at me with plea deals, time served and all that good stuff. Bail $500,000. Hell I could not afford that, so i had to sit and wait. Took it to trial and won. Because I was not the guy. You know I learned a thing or two, more people take deals to get out sooner, they did not the crime but to sit and fight it like did would take some time. Longer then the sentence they would get and way shorter then the deal they take. So please be aware, some day you could be sitting in your car and have some cop come up and think you fit the description of suspect and your in a jail cell. Quick note even if you win at trial there is no recourse for the time of your life that you lost.

Jack Foreigner
Jack Foreigner

What's really sad is that these people are the biggest flag-wavers around, mouthing platitudes about being proud to live in the land of the free, not understanding how it got to be free in the first place!

FWIW, I used to be one of these ignorant right-wing types and, yes, found myself behind bars for no good reason, opening my eyes to the injustice of the so-called criminal justice system. For example, did you know that Rikers' intake cells are full of cameras -- but they are never pointed in towards the cells?

That's because the cameras are for the benefit of the guards....

Jack Foreigner
Jack Foreigner

Wow, the fascination with homosexual rape. Log Cabin Republican?

Seriously, that's quite interesting how you think of "homosexual rape" when you think of "jail" -- even in the context of an article that clearly notes how many poor people, and innocent people, there are in jail.

 
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