New York City officials plan to eliminate bail for thousands of non-violent suspects, placing them instead into a supervised program that includes text message reminders, therapy, and daily check-ins.
The plan, first reported by the Associated Press, would allow judges to release low-risk and non-violent suspects who can't afford bail. These suspects would then be supervised during the court process while they live at home and keep their jobs. The program would end the current practice of keeping poor defendants waiting for their trials in jail while letting richer suspects buy their freedom.
The changes come in the wake of the suicide last month of Kalief Browder, who spent three years in the city's notorious Rikers Island prison for stealing a backpack because he couldn't afford the $3,000 bail.
"Kalief Browder and other cases have begun to signify this (need for reform) in the public eye," Elizabeth Glazer, the mayor's criminal justice coordinator, told the AP. "We want to focus on risk to be the determining factor to decide if someone will be in or out; and it has to be risk, not money."
About 45,500 criminal defendants in the New York City—14 percent—are held on bail each year. But 87 percent of the people in an already-running supervised release pilot program similar to the city plan met all their court dates, according to the AP.
The program, which is expected to cost $18 million, will go into effect next year.
Casey Tolan is a National News Reporter for Fusion based in New York City.