NEW YORK – Council Member Rory I. Lancman, Chair of the Committee on the Justice System, issued the following statement in response to a landmark ruling by Dutchess County Supreme Court Justice Maria Rosa that setting cash bail without considering a defendant’s ability to pay is a violation of a person’s constitutional rights.

Lancman convened a Courts & Legal Services Committee hearing in 2015 to examine the current bail system and the need for reform. Lancman is also the prime sponsor of legislation to provide judges with defendants’ financial information at arraignment.

“It is a grave injustice that thousands of men and women in New York City are stuck in jail, waiting for their day in court, solely because they cannot afford to pay bail. We are punishing people for their poverty, and they are paying the price with their freedom.

“This landmark ruling sets an important standard for our judges that setting bail without first considering a defendant’s ability to pay is a violation of both the United States and New York Constitutions. As Chair of the Committee on the Justice System, I will continue to support programs that provide judges with defendant’s financial information prior to setting bail, like the Vera Institute’s Bail Project.”