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Thousands of people who stand accused—but not convicted—of any crime are shuttled to Rikers Island unnecessarily because of an antiquated and inefficient system.

Even when bail is set at $500 or less, about 84 percent of defendants charged with misdemeanors go to jail for at least a day because they are given sometimes less than an hour to pay and often don’t have access to basic items—like a wallet or cell phone—that would allow them to contact family or friends and pull resources together. The repercussions of even one day of unnecessary jail time can be devastating.

We must fix these wrongs.

Building on the momentum of the Criminal Justice Reform Act and our goal to close jails on Rikers Island, we are passing a series of bills that will allow families to support loved ones who have been detained, simplify information about bail, and make it easier to pay. Spending time in Rikers unnecessarily should not be the standard.

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When is bail made?

When bail is set, 72 percent of the time, people aren’t able to pay it immediately and are taken into Department of Corrections custody and taken to Rikers Island.

Bail amount set for non‑felonies

Though people are unlikely to pay bail immediately, their bail is likely to be set at less than $1,000 for those suspected of Non-Felony crimes.

How long are people in jail before posting bail?

Approximately 75 percent of people who pay bail do so within seven days of arraignment.

Bill Summaries

Int. No. 1531-A
Allows Immediate Bail Payment to Efficiently Facilitate the Process

Currently, there are “blackout periods” in which DOC will not accept bail. Sometimes people wait up to 24 hours because the DOC will not accept bail when someone is initially in DOC custody. Some may have to travel hours to the nearest location where the DOC does accept bail.

This bill requires the DOC to accept bail immediately and continuously in courthouses, locations within .5 miles of a courthouse, or online. This bill also requires the release of person who pays bail within 5 hours initially and within 3 hours by October 2018, in most circumstances.

Prop. Int. No. 1541-A
Delays Formal Admission in Order to Post Bail

Currently, inmates have a limited period of time to post bail before being sent to Rikers Island. With this bill, the DOC can delay the transfer of inmates from courthouse facilities to Rikers Island for 12 hours in order to facilitate posting bail. The bill also requires regular reporting on the use of these delays.

Prop. Int. No. 1561-A
Empowering Inmates to Understand the Bail Process

Those incarcerated on bail often are not aware of the full array of options for posting bail, and may not even be aware of exactly what amount and type of bail have been set on their case.

Additionally, some inmates who have the financial means to post bail for themselves are not typically afforded that opportunity in court.

This bill requires the DOC to provide all inmates a written summary of their bail and the options for paying bail, and to give inmates access to their personal property in order to facilitate the bail process.

Additionally, the DOC must provide inmates with “bail facilitators” who will meet with inmates within 48 hours of their admission to assist in posting bail.

Prop. Int. No. 1576-A
Empowering Inmates to Access Personal Property in Police Custody

Currently, the NYPD does not allow arrestees to access their mobile phones or other sources of contact information. By preventing access your phone or wallet, you don’t have a way to notify family or loved ones that you’ve been detained. This becomes a problem because state law requires judges to consider whether individuals have friends or family present in the courtroom who could assist them in posting bail.

This bill requires the New York City Police Department to permit arrestees access to contact information from their cell phones or personal property, unless the property is “arrest evidence” or is relevant criminal evidence.

Prop. Int. 1581A
Posting of Accurate Bail Information & Bail Process in Courtrooms

A report commissioned by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (“MOCJ”) indicates that inaccurate and incomplete information regarding the process of posting bail is common throughout the criminal justice system.

This bill would require MOCJ to make reasonable efforts to work with the court system to ensure that complete and accurate information regarding posting bail is posted in courthouses, or communicated directly through the use of “bail kiosks” that are currently operational in the Bronx criminal courts.