The Price of Freedom – Bail and Pretrial Detention of Low Income Nonfelony Defendants in New York City

Source: Human Rights Watch, December 2, 2010

From the press release:
Drawing on previously unpublished data and scores of interviews with judges, defendants, prosecutors, and defense counsel, this report reveals the extent of the problem. Among defendants arrested in 2008 on nonfelony charges who had bail set at $1,000 or less, 87 percent were incarcerated because they were unable to post the bail amount at their arraignment. On average, they spent almost 16 days in pretrial detention for low-level offenses. Most were accused of nonviolent minor crimes such as shoplifting, turnstile jumping, smoking marijuana in public, drug possession, trespassing, and prostitution….The expense to New York City is considerable. For example, Human Rights Watch calculated that the city could have saved at least $42 million if it had not incarcerated the 16,649 nonfelony defendants arrested in 2008 who were unable to make bail of $1,000 or less.

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