What happens to jail population when we the change bail policy?
We are changing the way public defenders fight illegal pretrial incarceration. With an attorney in every borough of New York City, our Women’s Pretrial Release Initiative, and a litigation team dedicated to transformative impact litigation, we are fighting every day to ensure that all of our incarcerated clients have the resources necessary to confront their pretrial incarceration.
We are one of the state’s leading voices on criminal justice policy. Working with the New York City Council and Mayor’s office we have fought to facilitate our client’s release from Rikers Island and regulate abusive practices by the Department of Corrections. Working with state legislators, we are advancing the cause for comprehensive criminal justice reform in Albany.
Our most important job is to get our clients back to their families and community. Our social work team works directly with our clients, their families, and our attorneys to ensure that clients get back home with the support that they need to overcome the difficulty of reentering the community after spending time incarcerated.
We work in a wide variety of coalitions to advance the interests of our clients. In partnership with local defender organizations, community bail funds, and impacted communities we are combating the system’s injustices. We also train attorneys throughout New York, and work with national civil rights and defender organizations to ensure the community’s vision for reform becomes a reality.
HOW DOES BAIL PUNISH THE POOR?
Bail is not supposed to be punishment—it is a release mechanism. In theory, it is a monetary amount that someone must pay to be released from jail and to incentivize their return to court. However, when the amount of money required is beyond someone’s financial means it condemns them jail—regardless of guilt or innocence. The consequences of this disparate treatment are devastating for the poor and people of color, who are overrepresented in the criminal justice system. In 2017, approximately 47,000 people cycled through Rikers Island before ever being convicted of a crime. Over 90% were people of color. 34% of our clients were more likely to be convicted simply because bail was set.