Many suspects charged with small crimes have no recourse other than waiting in hot, cramped and unbearable conditions, usually in facilities like Rikers Island, while they’re forced pay at-times exorbitant sums to make bail. This might change however, according to a new plan put into effect by the mayor’s office, which allocates $18 million toward alternative solutions to the bail system, such as “supervision options including regular check-ins, text-message reminders” and various kinds of therapy, reports the Associated Press.
The announcement comes on the heels of various AP reports, which have uncovered and exposed corruption and appalling conditions on Rikers Island. Last year, the AP reported on a mentally ill homeless man charged with trespassing, who died in a sweltering cell as the city imposed a $2,500 bail on his release. And last month, 22 year-old Kalief Browder committed suicide following a horrific Rikers Island stint for the charge of stealing a backpack. His bail was set at $3,000.
Elizabeth Glazer, a criminal justice coordinator for the mayor’s office, told the AP, “I think the basic principle is that Kalief Browder and other cases have begun to signify this (need for reform) in the public eye,” adding that “we want to focus on risk to be the determining factor to decide if someone will be in or out; and it has to be risk, not money.”
The package, which will only apply to 3,000 low-risk defendants, will allow judges to replace bail with the alternative options starting next year.
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