Bay Ridge

De Blasio’s Bail Lab looks to change how suspects are treated

October 20, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
State Sen. Marty Golden says he objects to the mayor’s plan to change the city’s bail system. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas
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The de Blasio administration is moving forward with a plan to revamp the system by which crime suspects are jailed while awaiting trial.

On Oct. 14, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the creation of Bail Lab, a new program in which bail for low level, non-violent criminal suspects will be analyzed and possibly discarded altogether in certain cases.

Starting in 2016, the Bail Lab will work with the courts to test alternatives to money bail and will work with judges to test different payment strategies and expand data on the risks posed by defendants, the mayor announced.

There are an estimated 47,000 people detained in New York City every year because they cannot make bail, according to the mayor’s office.

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“Whether or not someone is in a cell on Rikers Island cannot simply be determined by how much money they have in the bank — and the research and tests we will conduct through the Bail Lab will help us build a fairer and safer criminal justice system,” de Blasio said. “The Bail Lab will help us understand the best ways to safely reduce unnecessary jail time.”

State Sen. Marty Golden, a former NYPD officer, said he is adamantly opposed to the idea of reducing or getting rid of bail.

He predicted that if the Bail Lab program is fully adopted, thousands of defendants would be set free and placed under “supervised release” instead of staying in prison pending trial.

Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn) said he is also troubled by the fact that the City Council is looking into the possibility of establishing a system in which the taxpayer-funded citywide bail fund of $1.4 million would be used to secure the freedom of suspect who cannot make bail.

“Can you imagine a guy committing a crime against you and then having your tax dollars paying for his bail? It’s outrageous,” Golden told the Brooklyn Eagle.

“Additionally, judges should be allowed to use their judgment and discretion when setting bail. There should not be any restrictions put in place that will hinder a judge’s authority, which will ultimately set individuals free and endanger the public. When used correctly, the bail system is an effective way to ensure those arrested return to face trial and a tool for judges to keep dangerous individuals from returning to the streets or fleeing prosecution,” Golden said.

The de Blasio administration contended that while bail exists to encourage defendants to return to court, there is a lack of evidence that money is effective in encouraging defendants to return.

Approximately 17,000 criminal suspects a year are able to make bail after they are booked into Rikers Island jails and 77 percent of those individuals make bail within one week of being detained.


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