The Bronx Defenders Denounced Proposed Bail Bill in New York State

June 11, 2013

Contact: Justine Olderman, The Bronx Defenders, (917) 836-4366

The Bronx Defenders Denounced Proposed Bail Bill in New York State

The Bronx Defenders called for the New York Legislature to abandon Proposed Bill S. 4483 (Nozzolio) / A. 6799 (Lentol), which does not contain constitutional safeguards or provide adequate guidance in setting bail, and would greatly increase the number of poor people detained pre-trial in New York.

Bronx, NY – The Bronx Defenders announced its strong opposition to proposed bill S. 4483/A. 6799. In a Memorandum of Opposition and accompanying fact sheet released today, The Bronx Defenders explained that the proposed bill will not fix the current bail-setting practices that disadvantage poor people. In fact, it will increase the number of people detained pre-trial, as it does not provide adequate guidance to judges or constitutional safeguards for clients.

“If the bill passes, our jails will be overwhelmed with poor people accused of low-level crimes – presumed innocent, yet forced to wait behind bars for their day in court,” said Justine Olderman, Managing Attorney at The Bronx Defenders. “Instead of changing the law, we should better implement the current bail statute, which is already perfectly designed to address the legislature’s concerns.” Unlike the proposed bill, which requires judges to consider public safety in all cases regardless of the charge or offense history, the current statute is carefully drafted to allow consideration of public safety when appropriate. The current statute also includes multiple provisions that give judges the flexibility to tailor their bail determinations depending on a person’s financial resources. This is crucial, as many New Yorkers are held on bail not because they are presumed guilty or violent, but because they are poor. According to the Criminal Justice Agency, 39% of the more than 50,000 defendants who had bail set in New York City in 2011 were asked to post bail of $1,000 or less. Over 80% of them could not afford to pay $500 or $1,000, forcing them to fight their cases from behind bars.

The proposed changes will not make it easier for people charged with non-violent offenses to post bail. Instead, that goal can be reached by applying the existing statute as intended. Many criminal justice stakeholders are not aware that there are nine different types of bail eligible
under the current statute, several of which, like property and unsecured bonds, make posting
bail more accessible for poor clients.


See full letter here.

See The Bronx Defenders Fact Sheet on proposed bill here.