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Sep 10, 2018 12:35 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Monetary Bail Amounts Could Soon Be A Thing Of The Past In In New York

New York State legislators are looking at a bill that would modify when courts are permitted to set monetary bail amounts to those who commit crimes. GREG WEHNER
Sep 11, 2018 2:04 PM

California recently enacted legislation to remove monetary bail from its justice system, making it the first state to take such measures.

Some legislators in New York say the Empire State could follow suit in the coming years.

The State Assembly approved a bill to change the bail system earlier this year. The legislation is designed to get rid of the “over-reliance on monetary bail, which results in the unnecessary and expensive pre-trial jailing of thousands of persons simply because they cannot afford a modest sum as collateral,” according to its language.

Although the bill passed in the Assembly, it did not get through the Senate.

“Every year, thousands of New Yorkers are incarcerated awaiting trial simply because they cannot afford to pay bail, a situation that is unfair to families and the less-financially secure among us,” the bill read. “Poor and working-class New Yorkers are nonetheless incarcerated by the thousands for days, weeks, months—sometimes years—before trial, or until a plea agreement is reached, often ultimately involving no more than a sentence of ‘time served.’”

The law passed in California was based on the idea that defendants would be evaluated based on their risk to the public and whether or not they would appear back in court, instead on whether or not they could post bail or not. Those who are deemed eligible are released and remain under supervision until their trial.

Currently, under the New York State justice system, courts have the option to impose a bail amount at arraignment or when a person is charged with a non-violent felony, misdemeanor, a traffic infraction or a violation.

The proposed bill, which won approval from the Assembly on June 12 in an 87-57 vote, would require courts to consider releasing the defendant on their own recognizance if the crime was a non-violent felony, releasing the defendant without bail, monitoring the defendant through a pretrial services agency, imposing travel restrictions on the defendant or monitoring the defendant’s location through GPS tracking—in that particular order—instead of imposing a monetary bail amount.

The court would also be required to choose the least restrictive condition to ensure the defendant appears in court when required.

The bill does not completely eliminate bail, though, if the defendant is charged with a felony or misdemeanor sex offense, a class A felony, witness tampering, felony terrorism, violent felonies, second-degree robbery or falsely reporting an incident, the court would impose a cash bail.

If bail were to be set, the bill stipulates, it must be “reasonable” and designed to ensure the person returns to court.

According to State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., one of the main discussions in the Assembly was what would constitute a violent felony. The same arguments were made when the bill hit the Senate floor.

“The debate on the floor was over what type of offenses bail would be eliminated for,” the assemblyman said on Thursday, September 6. “There was disagreement, to a large degree, on where the line should be drawn on what is a non-violent offense.”

Mr. Thiele, who voted in favor of the bill when it was in the Assembly, said the topic of monetary bail was a big issue in Albany, adding that Governor Andrew Cuomo even introduced a similar bill when he presented his budget proposal.

The Senate would not agree to either bill.

Multiple calls and emails over the past two weeks to Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, seeking more information about the bill in the Senate, and his opinion on monetary bail, were not returned.

Mr. Thiele said the bill might be introduced again this term. “I think there is a call for criminal justice reform,” he said. “I think it will be back in 2019.”

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I have a good Idea. If you can't afford your bail then don't get arrested.
By bmr80 (35), east quogue on Sep 10, 18 5:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By DiseaseDiocese (668), Riverhead on Sep 10, 18 5:46 PM
I will preface by saying that I have been in the Bail Industry since 2006 and I am Licensed by the State of NY as a Bail Enforcement Agent Instructor. I interact with Judges, Jails, Attorneys, Court Clerks, Defendants and their Families on an hourly basis.
This is nothing more than a huge pack of lies being fed to the public and to legislatures.
The purpose of Bail is to insure the Defendant's return to court and does not serve as a 'punishment' as claimed.
The Bond amount is set ...more
By DisgustedHamptons (58), Hampton Bays on Sep 11, 18 1:22 AM
You betray your own point by framing it in the self-interested context of the "bail bond industry."

The fact remains that bail is wielded punitively against defendants of color in discriminatory fashion.
Sep 11, 18 6:11 AM appended by Fore1gnBornHBgrown
This should read "punitively AND against defendants of color"
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Sep 11, 18 6:11 AM
https://whyy.org/segments/one-year-since-n-j-ditched-cash-bail-heres-going/ this is a good article about cash bail in n.j. It shoots holes in disgusted argument.
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Sep 11, 18 11:29 AM
Just let them all go on good behavior...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Sep 11, 18 3:36 PM
You understand that when talking about bail, we're discussing people who haven't been found guilty of any crime, right? So parole terms like "good behavior" are inapplicable?
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Sep 11, 18 4:04 PM