NYC Prosecutors Accidentally Admit They Use Bail To Deprive Presumably-Innocent People Of Their Freedom

from the gov't-getting-sick-of-whatever-justice-actually-remains-in-the-justice-syste dept

New York City’s prosecutors just admitted they use the bail system to punish people for being accused of criminal acts. It’s not there to serve its intended purpose: to ensure the return of charged individuals to court, where they’re presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The bail system isn’t supposed to keep people locked up. But that’s the way it’s been used for years. Prosecutors often ask for excessive bail amounts. Judges often grant them. The argument made for high bail amounts — which ensure only the most well-to-do can remain free while awaiting trial — is that arrested people are flight risks and/or more inherently dangerous than all the people the police haven’t gotten around to arresting yet.

The stats don’t back up the parade of horribles offered by prosecutors at bail hearings. People have done the math. And this excellent article by the Boston Review compiles the damning numbers.

Statistical studies have continually shown that these concerns are exaggerated; the vast majority of people who are arrested and then make bail do not commit violent crimes while their cases are pending. In fact, according to a study by New York City’s Criminal Justice Agency, only 3 percent of “at risk” defendants who make bail are even arrested (let alone convicted) for a violent crime while their initial cases are pending. Similarly, a recent study by the Vera Institute of Justice tracked more than fifty people who were released from court in New York City without having to pay their entire bail—only two were rearrested on a new violent felony charge over the following year.

There goes the “public safety” argument. High bails are supposedly needed because presumptively innocent people are inveterate criminals prone to committing crime after crime until their return to court.

And here comes the “public safety” argument, inadvertently highlighting prosecutors’ bail-based bullshit. Grassroot groups, led by RFK Human Rights, are posting bail for hundreds of incarcerated suspects. Money has been raised to post bail for “every woman, sixteen- and seventeen- year-old” currently housed in a NYC jail. The parade of horribles is back and it shows the government isn’t interested in allowing the bail system to, you know, work.

[W]hat the reaction to the Mass Bailout shows, in stark contrast, is that the DAs use bail money for very different purposes than it was designed for. They request these bails ostensibly to ensure the accused show up to court; yet now that they are actually being posted, the DAs are crying foul and warning that freeing the accused will endanger “public safety.” They are therefore admitting what so many in affected communities already know to be true: that money bail routinely—and illegally—is set too high for poor defendants to afford, solely for the improper purpose of keeping them in jail before trial.

This isn’t just bad optics by the DAs. This is also illegal. The sole purpose of bail, according to New York law, is to ensure the return of the accused to court. It cannot be used to lock accused suspects up for “public safety” reasons. But this reaction by city prosecutors makes it clear they believe they can use the system the way the law says they can’t. And this reaction — as bad and as unlawful as it is — will probably be replicated anywhere bail relief efforts/bail reforms are deployed.

This just drives the point home that one-half of the justice system gives zero fucks about justice, due process, or any other safeguards erected against government power over the years. All they want is to lock people up and keep them locked up, even if they’ve never received their day in court.

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Comments on “NYC Prosecutors Accidentally Admit They Use Bail To Deprive Presumably-Innocent People Of Their Freedom”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

One of the other reasons to keep them locked up is so they take the plea.
Locked up you need to get someone to cover rent, watch kids, feed pets, beg your boss to not fire you… gee all of those pressures seem like a reason innocent people might take a plea to have hope of salvaging their life before it gets destroyed waiting for their day in court where they roll the dice with an underpaid overworked public defender who might have all of 2 minutes to look at your case & no time or budget to actually put on a defense.

The punishment starts with the accusation and gets multiplied at every step to keep the system churning quickly. There can be video of you 5 states away, but that won’t matter until you get a day in court and that could be months away. You get a hearty GTFO, dumped on the street & have to find out what happened to your stuff & try to rebuild your life.

What people think the justice system is & how it works is so very different than the reality. Some people are mad their tax dollars give the accused a public defender, because they wouldn’t be in jail if they were innocent (because the 15 times I heard about people released from jail after being found innocent were flukes & that never happens now).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“What people think the justice system is & how it works is so very different than the reality.”

Yea, about that…

What does anyone care about presumed innocence?
People want Kavaugh destroyed on accusation alone,
People want Hillary destroyed on accusation alone,
People want Trump destroyed on accusation alone,
People want Obama destroyed on accusation alone.

There are many, so many more examples of how much people like to destroy others based on accusation alone.

It’s seems to me that people want others destroyed on accusation alone…

And let me assure you… people care more about the healthcare and contraception debate than they care about the mistreatment and incarceration of innocent people. I would say the “inJustice System” is doing just exactly what we ALL want!

Fuck “liberty”, fuck everyone that disagrees with me, if I cannot force people to live as I say… burn it all to the ground!

~Everyone, especially those claiming tolerance.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

People want Kavaugh investigated … for reals, not bullshit hand waving.

GOP wants Hillary in jail and to hell with due process.

People want Trump to adhere to the laws of the land and stop acting like a child.

People want Obama as a fall guy

“There are many, so many more examples of how much people like to destroy others based on accusation alone.”
– Sorta like what you have done here?

“And let me assure you… people care more about the healthcare and contraception debate than they care about the mistreatment and incarceration of innocent people.”
– It depends doesn’t it? Like to whom you converse or something.

Ohhhh – hello Mr. Anarchy, aka blame the victim guy

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Clintons of note

As a matter of habit, I’ve been referring to Hillary as Clinton given that she’s been the more active of the two, without any apparent problems of confusion.

The exception is matters of sexual harassment / assault, in which case references to Clinton are to Bill by default, and I specify which one if there’s any doubt.

I’m not sure at this point if either are going to continue their career as anything other than pundits or standard bearers, and really I hope not: In 2016 I voted for Clinton, and would really rather have had her than president than Trump. And yet, I also have plenty of objections to the [Bill] Clinton — Bush — Obama succession of policy, that I’d expect Hillary Clinton to continue, particularly the things that quietly continue under Trump without argument: Extrajudicial detention and torture, Drone strikes and targeted killings, IP maximalism, overclassification, mass surveillance and so on.

But I could push a Democratic administration to address these policies. Trump’s administration is too busy preventing implosion and pushing the GOP pro-autocracy power grab to care about things like public rights and crimes against humanity.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Because the idiots calling for these sorts of things are more concerned with riling up the base than if they are shitting on the foundation of the country.

Obama – there are STILL people claiming he isn’t an american, the birth certificate is faked, and he sold us into sharia.

Trump – he lies & pivots so fast reversing what he just said.

Hillary – she killed 100000 people, is leader of the pedophile ring, and might be a lizard alien.

Kavaugh – Was an altar boy who never drank or perhaps he would get black out drunk and be abusive.

These accusation can/have been investigated, and no one is happy with the results. Some are cut short, despite promises otherwise, some are kept alive by the its the ‘deep state’ conspiracy.

Of course your rant doesn’t really mean shit in this context, because we are talking about bail being used to punish people on mere accusation so they take the plea and we can close the book on a crime. I mean its not like there was a national story where a chief told his officers to just find a darkie to blame b/c they were more likely to have prior convictions & we can blame them and mark the case closed… oh wait.

People care about their OWN healthcare & have this magical belief that having to pay money towards others gives them the right to demand it be the least possible.

People care about contraception, but only in that OMG MY RELIGIOUS RIGHTS sort of way. Hobby Lobby is so opposed to it they went to court… I wonder if the court knew how much money they had invested into a contraception maker if that might have swayed the view of it being a simple religious right.

These suck all of the air out of the room, because if more people cared about things outside of their own little personal bubble, we might actually vote all of these fuckheads out of office. They blow the whistle, the base screams & the base is willing to shoot their own foot just to make sure they can stick it to the other guy.

Healthcare is expensive because PHARMA is a huge lobby, not because of any of the excuses. Insulin is going up b/c they can not because it magically got harder to make. They raise prices, insurance negotiates a better price raises rates, and the uninsured well its 3k for a month supply of this drug that will die without.

There is rampant price fixing & profiteering… last I checked the government was supposed to stop things like this (at least on paper). We are now willing to accept people dying so long as we can have a scrap for ourselves.

They blame the poor & minorities for stealing their piece of the pie, while actual research shows many of those screaming the loudest are abusing the system the most. Of course they don’t notice their leaders are the one taking the lions share of the pie while keeping you focused elsewhere as they greedily gobble it up.

I’m perfectly willing to accuse you of being an asshat, but you aren’t worth my effort to destroy. Me think she doth protest to much.

JMT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"What does anyone care about presumed innocence?
People want Kavaugh destroyed on accusation alone,
People want Hillary destroyed on accusation alone,
People want Trump destroyed on accusation alone,
People want Obama destroyed on accusation alone."

None of those people are in court, which is the only place you have a legal presumption of innocence. I am perfectly entitled to my opinion that the first three people on your list were terrible mistakes that should never have happened.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Kavanaugh

Ever since Bush v. Gore in 2000 there’s been reason to be wary of the appeals courts being stacked with Federalist Society judges. As it is, we now have five out of nine on the IS Supreme Court.

As a thought experiment, imagine if there were six practicing Jews on the supreme court, five of which belonged to a secret ideological, extremist society determined to reshape the culture of the US (and ultimately the world) in its image. Trump, the Alt-right, the GOP remnants would be having a category-six conniption about it.

Except that’s what’s happening, if you replace Jew with Catholic. And we’ve already seen the pro-corporate, anti-woman agenda of the Federalist Society shaping cases like Hobby Lobby and Citizens United, where religious rights (specifically Christian religion) or corporate rights are ruled to supersede human rights when they conflict.

That is reason enough to prevent Kavanaugh from taking a bench on SCOTUS. But the GOP loyalists outnumber those that actually have a conscience, so it doesn’t matter.

But then there is the way Kavanaugh casually lies, and did from his initial appointment.

And then there’s Kavanaugh’s temper and his sense of vengeance, both of which are not traits suited to a justice, let alone one on the Supreme Court. They’re supposed to be exceedingly impartial.

And then there’s Kavanaugh’s alleged history of sexual assault and impropriety. We’re not sure about it, but man, given how much Kavanaugh lies about less critical things, it’s hard to take his word when he denies ever being inappropriate with a woman ever. And it’s really easy to believe the victim, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who really had no reason to testify and risk getting smeared (which she was) except out of civic duty to the people of the US. And her story is internally consistent, which Kavanaugh’s is not.

And then there’s the whole matter of Garland’s denial of a bench on SCOTUS, which was super sleazy on part of the GOP and demonstrated that exploitation of the system to consolidate power away from the people works! You’d think we’d have fixed that so it could never be done again, but instead our officials just let the public lose faith in government being actually fair.

But it’s worse than that. Garland’s denial of a confirmation was done in order to load SCOTUS with Federalist Society members, so it gets back to that world-domination-at-the-expense-of-people’s-rule thing. Ever since Garland’s bench was left open (along with dozens of other federal benches, nationwide) this has smacked of a coup d’etat, that is, overt seizure of a state by elites within the state apparatus.

Our court has been taken over. Considering the domination of the GOP and its correlation with a nation-wide gerrymandering project and a swarm of voter suppression efforts, and considering that the influence of the 2016 Presidential Election by Russia has been determined to have made a difference, it’s really easy to assume the coup is complete.

Now all we need is the controlled legislature to pass an Ermächtigungsgesetz, the controlled President to sign it, and the controlled Supreme Court to deflect all efforts to rule it unconstitutional, and the United States will be Putin’s…or whoever’s. The US would be legally owned by whoever controls the GOP.

Hopefully they haven’t thought it through this far, but now that Kavanaugh is in place, it means they can go through with it if they have.

Lance (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Kavanaugh

Just a reminder…In Bush V. Gore the Equal Protection Clause argument was 7-2. That’s what ended things. The 5-4 part was whether there was an available alternative that could be used prior to the deadline. Also, 3 judges concurred that the Fla SC had erred, essentially making that part of the case 8-1. It wasn’t actually a close case at all. The close part (5-4) was basically the liberal wing hoping a continued recount would de-legitimize Bush. It wouldn’t have worked anyway, as nearly all who have studied the issue agree Bush would have held on.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Bush V. Gore

They could have extended the deadline. The county recounts would have given Bush the victory thanks to dangling chads, but a statewide recount would have given it to Gore. And considering how Bush behaved (like a rightwing extremist and war-monger, not the compassionate conservative he promised to be while campaigning), the US public has a lot to be sore about.

At this point we also have two decades of the GOP going through great lengths to conceal information from the public, including resistance to the bloody 9/11 commission (which is one of the reasons why we still have Truthers).

Even recently, the Kavanaugh investigation was extremely narrowed to not include dozens of witnesses, and then hobbled by an arbitrary deadline. And then Trump claims Kavanaugh was proven innocent. If this wasn’t a congressional hearing, but a court case in which there was a standard of proof, such a minimal investigation would be highly suspect.

It’s good to be the king.

mhajicek (profile) says:

Re: Re:

More than months. Some people are awaiting trial for more than four years. Then there are the outliers, like this man who was cleared after awaiting trial for seven years:

and this guy who as of the writing of the article still hasn’t had his trial after ten years:

mhajicek (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Ok, that’s weird. The headline of the first one says the court cleared him, but then at the bottom it says they found him guilty. Oh well, the point of unreasonably delayed trials still stands. Something even more concerning is that three times when the guy refused to plea and insisted on his right to trial, his own attorney (seems to be a different attorney each time) called him crazy and delayed to have his sanity tested.

ShadowNinja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Honestly, I wonder at times how much better off we’d be if Hollywood didn’t make shows or movies glorifying cops, prosecutors, and guns.

A few years ago I remember a politician made headlines by saying they see nothing wrong with torturing terrorists, because ‘It works for Jack Bauer, and no one thinks he did anything wrong!‘. Ignoring the obvious fact that Jack Bauer is a fictional character, and Hollywood writers don’t have any real world experience at interrogating a terrorist to know what methods are really effective.

That One Guy (profile) says:

'They're a serious threat to the public... right until they pay'

In addition to what they inadvertently admitted, that they are deliberately(and illegally) setting bail too high in order to keep people in jail until trial, the argument that posting bail is a threat to public safety merely brings up another question:

If someone is an actual danger to the public, why would there be a bail amount set at all? If someone is suspected or assault and/or murder can they walk until trial so long as they have enough money?

If someone is a demonstrable threat to those around them the simple act of paying does not magically make them not a threat, so if there is real evidence that someone poses a threat to the public why would any level of bail be set, rather than a case made to the judge that the accused presents a threat to those around them and as such it would be much safer to have them behind bars until trial.

This is of course a rhetorical question, as it’s pretty clear that they don’t think the people are actually threats, the point is instead that even assuming they were being honest they’d still have a hole large enough to drive a semi through in their argument.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: 'They're a serious threat to the public... right until they pay'

“If someone is an actual danger to the public, why would there be a bail amount set at all? If someone is suspected or assault and/or murder can they walk until trial so long as they have enough money?”

There is no bail set and the suspect is Remanded to Custody until Trial in such cases.

Prosecutors just about always ask for Remand in seriously violent cases. A Judge makes that decision.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: 'They're a serious threat to the public... right until they pay'

About what I figured, which makes the objection made by the prosecutors all the worse. Claiming that the accused are threats, yet can’t be bothered to demonstrate it to a judge, and instead merely set an excessive bail to keep them locked up.

I get the feeling they did not think through what their objections would reveal about them, as no matter how you slice it they come out looking bad.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: 'They're a serious threat to the public... right until they pay'

Bail amounts are malleable, but there’s a guideline for amounts similar to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

On Arraignment, Prosecution declares the Charges and asks for a bail amount based on that scale, or for bail to be denied.

Defense makes their arguments against it.

The Judge makes the decision on Remand, Bail, and Bail Amount, following those guidelines.

Violent crimes have higher bail guidelines.

Just about any Felony charge will require surrender of the accused’s Passport (if they have one).

The INTENT of the Bail system was to insure those charged would show up for Trial.

Are some Bail requirements excessive? Definitely – but if that’s what the guidelines reccomend, and the Defense can’t make a good argument against it, that’s the number the Judge sets.

Note WHO is getting bailed out en masse in the article. Women and kids. The amount of Bail set isn’t mentioned. So it may be that we’re looking at a huge number of Charged with bail set under $1,000, which, I think, you’ll find more likely than ten people with bail set at $1,000,000. The Charges those people are in Remand for aren’t mentioned either – there’s a pile of traffic infractions that can land you there.

What I have not seen mentioned in any of the articles regarding Bail is how much the system KEEPS after you DO show up for your court date. It’s a minimum of 10%, I forget the exact name used for that, but it’s basically a “Handling Fee”.

So the guy who puts up his home to make $250,000 Bail loses $25,000 right off the bat. If he’s using a Bondsman, it’s closer to $50,000.

Me? I’d sit in County lockup until my trial date before “gifting” that kind of money away.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 'They're a serious threat to the public... right until they pay'

“guideline for amounts similar to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.”

I would guess the amount it set by the private prison industry

“Just about any Felony charge will require surrender of the accused’s Passport”

Unless you are one of the elite ruling class.

“Defense can’t make a good argument against it”

The law is not on trial here – lol, it should be.

Even if bail is set to $500, not many these days can come up with that … minimum wage has seen to that.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 'They're a serious threat to the public... right until they pay'

You just won’t be happy unless you can claim a conspiracy, will you?

The bail system(s) have been in place for centuries. Well before private prisons.

It’s part of the justice system.

If you’re Charged with a violent crime, the Judge is going to demand Surrender of your Passport, no matter how “rich” you are. And likely deny Bail for serious violent crimes, again, no matter how “rich” or, let’s face it, by “rich” you mean “white” you are.

If $500 bail is too much of a “hardship” for a person, and that’s their ONLY defense against Posting, well… Tough.

And I say the same for the person with a good job having bail set at $50,000.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 'They're a serious threat to the public... right until they pay'

Ah, there’s the ad hominem attack. Can’t refute anything, so attack the person pointing it out to you.

Cops have nothing to do with BAIL. Or Prosecutions, other than when called as Witnesses.

Look, kid (ad homindm for ad hominem, it’s only fair), if you’re going to complain about something, make sure you know what you’re talking about.

Take a simple traffic ticket and watch what happens if you don’t show up for court….

You miss First Call, then Second Call. The Judge says “Bench Warrant” and the ADA issues one then and there.

Two weeks, or ten years later, you’re stopped for Jaywalking. Cop inputs your ID and it comes back Open Warrant.

You’re arrested on that Warrant, and Bail IS granted because you PROVED you’re a Flight Risk.

On top of that, you’re assessed a minimum of $1,000 for Warrant Execution.

Now all kinds of fees and charges pretty much like interest on what the maximum fee of your original ticket was.

How is anyone with enough brain cells to tie their own shoes supposed to feel sorry for you?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 'They're a serious threat to the public... right until they pay'

Why would you get issued a Bench Warrant for a traffic ticket?

You get issued the ticket. The ticket notes a time and date and location, where you can show up in order to fight it. If you don’t show up to fight it, you have to pay it.

If it were the kind of offence where appearing before a judge was necessary, you wouldn’t be ticketed; you’d be arrested.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 'They're a serious threat to the public... right until they pay'

The Bench Warrant is issued for Failure to Appear if the ticket is for a Misdemeanor rather than a Violation.

You’re basically released on your own recognizance for such tickets – the penalty is usually a fine.

By ignoring the ticket, which was something like a $15-20 fine back around 1980, it ended up costing me about $2,000.

Moral of the story: Don’t ignore court dates.

Anonymous Coward says:

You get what you measure

The real underlying issue is one of management and performance reviews. You know the periodic “performance evaluation” that every employee gets at least once a year. And those evaluations are generally based upon some quantifiable metric. Say for prosecutors, the metric is “How many cases have you won?”, or perhaps “What percentage of the cases you’ve prosecuted have you won?” What you’re NOT going to find is “What percentage of your cases has justice been achieved?”

And people being people, the prosecutors will work towards the metric by which they’re being measured.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Or in tl;dr format: 'When all you have is hammer...'

The real underlying issue is one of management and performance reviews.

Yes and no. Assuming there is a metric like that the prosecutors are still the ones deciding to illegally pad the numbers and/or abuse the system to do so. Just because there may be a metric where it’s easier to game it by abusing the system at the cost of others does not mean they have to do so, so even then they’d still have more than enough blame on their shoulders.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Or in tl;dr format: 'When all you have is hammer...'

“the prosecutors are still the ones deciding to illegally pad the numbers”

Weeelll… if the organization, besides using skewed metrics, also fires the ones who underperform (i.e. who have some scruples), then after a while only the people who are willing to pad the numbers will be left. Or instead of firing the honest, promoting the corrupt should also do the trick.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Or in tl;dr format: 'When all you have is hammer...'

Prosecutors get nothing for high (or low) Bail amounts.

They advance based on how MANY cases they WIN.

Which is why they use the Plea system for all it’s worth – they get no points for people found Not Guilty.

So they add in every possible charge they can think of so that the Accused will plead Guilty to a lesser charge. And that gives them the “points”.

Also, don’t dismiss that many Prosecutors see the job as a stepping stone to elected office. A “97% Conviction Rate!!!” looks good on the news blurbs.

Even if the Prosecutor has pleaded out every single case and never faced a Judge or Jury.

If you want to attack the Bail system, you’ve got to go much higher than Prosecutors or Judges. And you can’t just blindly attack it – you need to propose a replacement system for ensuring that the Accused will actually appear for Trial.

Not an easy task.

CrushU (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Or in tl;dr format: 'When all you have is hammer...'

See, now I’m imagining a world where the accused have rights, and where they’re just told “Look, if you have kids, we have a daycare for them for the day. We’ll send an Uber/Lyft/Taxi/Autonomous-Vehicle to your house to pick you up. If you aren’t there and ready, then we’ll put out a warrant.”

And now I’m sad we don’t live in that world.

We couldn’t use a GPS tracker bracelet because of privacy concerns, right…? So why is putting them in jail acceptable? I wonder if that should be offered as an option… Until trial, you may either: Sit in jail, pay bail, or wear a GPS tracker.

Paul Brinker (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Or in tl;dr format: 'When all you have is hammer...'

Even more easy solution to a GPS tracker.

Register your cell phone with us and we will not require bail. We will send text message reminders of your court date, inform you of resources available (including rides and child care) and provide you with a hotline you can call in case something goes wrong like if your in the hospital.

The other side of the bargain is that if you fail to show we ping your cell phone and send a cop to come pick you up. Or inform you that a warrant has been put out for your arrest for no show no call.

The only real downside to all of this people who cant miss work, but that’s always been the case unless we start paying for missed time from work. (Hay this is not a bad idea).

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: You get what you measure

Therein lay’s some of the problem. Their definition of justice is different than our definition of justice. To them, they are achieving justice by ‘protecting’ the general populace from these dastardly no gooders.

Then there is the issue of how is justice measured? Given that some ‘convictions’ are false (as demonstrated by those who are released after many years of incarceration and courts claiming that actual innocence isn’t an argument to be released), what constitutes justice? Can’t measure convictions, because they might be false, and they probably won’t measure findings of innocence because they are there to put the bad guys in jail. What’s lefts?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You get what you measure

It’s several steps worse in the US due to the increasing privatization. Even state and federal prisons pass off the majority of their functions to private contractors, to say nothing of the prisons entirely built, owned and run by GEO and CoreCivic.

Putting people in jail is profitable, the worse the treatment can get while still being allowed the more profitable it is, repeats are desirable because the prisons should stay stuffed, and non-violent offenders and people tricked into thinking they may still have a chance to recover their lives someday are by far preferred as they allow you to cut down on security overhead compared to actual hardened criminals.

Every single incentive is towards putting as many non-threats in jail as possible for as long as possible while demonizing and dehumanizing them as much as possible to ensure everyone’s okay with treating them as inhumanely as possible.

Meanwhile the majority of those who go around murdering for the fun of it never so much as get charged because they’ve been offered a badge.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You get what you measure

"What percentage of your cases has justice been achieved?"

How do you propose they measure this metric? On the one hand, they could look at it through the lens of the legal system, in which case justice is achieved 100% of the time.. On the other, they could claim omniscience and decide what the "correct" result of each case is. But if someone can do that effectively, why bother having trials at all? In short, this is not a "quantifiable metric."

And note, "What percentage of the cases you’ve prosecuted have you won" creates quite an interesting set of incentives. Refusing to prosecute at all unless the evidence is absolutely overwhelming (e.g. caught in the act type thing) would be highly favorable in this kind of metric, since winning 1 out of 1 case is better than 19 out of 20. So in that sense, it heavily favors the defendant. On the other hand, it also favors the rich, as they can afford better lawyers. The prosecutor would tend to prosecute cases against weaker lawyers over stronger ones, since they have a better chance of winning.

Gary (profile) says:

Re: Excessive

Glenn, that is an interesting philosophy, however it is not the intent of the laws currently on the books. Bail is a mechanism for the innocent to go about their lives while awaiting trial.
Such reasoning would clearly lead to “Why have bail is even person might commit a new crime.” Why indeed. Only bad people are arrested, right?
You speak of “statistics” as some sort of slight to our dignity and safety – but when half of those arrested have their cases tossed out without trial, that is not a statistic you can just ignore.
Being denied bail means loss of job, home, and liberty.

Anonymous Coward says:

“only 3 percent of “at risk” defendants who make bail are even arrested (let alone convicted) for a violent crime while their initial cases are pending”

I can easily see cases where cops frame people on bail to justify why they set the bail so high in the first place, so even this is likely an inflated number.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Similar to the probation problem in some states, where the probation officers can actually charge fees for checking you in – meaning if you can’t afford to pay them off you’re committing a crime and going back to jail.

It’s one of the most reliable ways of ensuring the newly-released go right back into crime, because the only way they’ll afford to keep out of jail is if they start selling drugs or robbing ATMs

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Frankly, because Judges tend to set lower Bail amounts for women and kids if the charges aren’t for violent crime.

This group is going for “number released on Bail”, nothing more. So coughing up $250 for a thousand teenagers up on Destruction of Property charges makes them look MUCH better than larger amounts on fewer people.

Anonymous Coward says:

In addition, they only patrol (read stop ‘n frisk) in low income areas, presumably due to the victim’s inability to defend themselves in court. NYC said they did not go after the bankers and friends because it would cost too much – what a lousy excuse for not doing your job. Do they put that on your performance appraisal? LOL – no but it does get you a bonus.

John Smith says:

New York City is declaring an all-out war on poverty, looking to stamp it out by criminalizing it.

If you are homeless, or disabled, you will be discharged from hospitals to literally die on the streets, or until you commit a crime or can otherwise be institutionalized at Bellevue’s intake unit, which looks like some futuristic zombie-chamber from Star Trek. If you are a minority, they will find you subhuman housing in the outskirts of the Bronx, and let the neighborhood take care of their need to get rid of you, while if you are white, and not privileged, they’ll hope you get the message and just leave town.

About the best you can do is claim a drug problem that gets you into rehab, but then policed by the system and a much bigger danger if you should ever commit the crime of being poor or homeless again. Women are sheltered in nice neighborhoods, like the one at Sixty-Eighth, near Hunter College, while men are sent into areas that have gentrified from looking like downtown Beiruit in the 1980s, to South Central Los Angeles now.

If you coommit the crime of hanging on to your rent-regulated apartment, your landlord will be allowed to harass you with endless eviction litigation, to bring your apartment to market rent, to help remove the blight that the one-percent does not want in its playground. At every step of the way, you will see “security” that came straight from an employment agency for rap-video rejects and other “rehabilitated” ex-cons, whose homicidal tendencies no longer target the rich, but because they are paid by the rich, they now focus on the poor.

Yes, it’s THAT bad. The bail system is just a symptom of a much larger class warfer. The rich who live in New York City are no better than the Nazis who lived “normal lives” under Adolf Hiter.

While it is admirable that this website is tilting at windmills by trying to publicize it, those in power already know, and don’t care about the welare of the poor any more than this site cares about protecting copyright, or individual reputations.

Speaking of which, exactly how is a person supposed to stop being defamed from an anonymous remailer that posts to USENET, which is then archived by Google, and turns up in every search result conducted by employers, friends, lovers, etc.? That seems like a pretty big loophole.

As for NYC, it will only get worse. The only way to stop this would have been not to bail out Wall Street in 2009. The housing market is already crashing — they are offering subprime mortgages again, this time with a zero down payment, to prop up prices — and when it does, we will have our come-to-Jesus moenet. Will we blink again as we did in 2009, or will we let sanity prevail this time?

Things look bleaker than ever. We also seem to be on the verge of civil war, given how much each side hates the other. Everyone will have to take sides, and be a target for the other side, while expected to kill for their own.

These are certainly, as the Chinese proverb says, “interesting times.”

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: The bail system is just a symptom of a much larger class war

Can you point to when the bail system changed? As far as I’ve been able to see, the amounts Judges have set over the last forty years or so haven’t changed (adjusting for inflation – a hundred bucks bought a lot more forty years ago) in any appreciable way.

You get charged with Assault, you’re looking at about $2,000 for bail. Regardless of your skin color, sex, or religion.

Now, if you are rich, you don’t rely on a Public Defender to argue against Bail, or to reduce it. That’s a perk of having money – it’s useful stuff.

And that too hasn’t changed over the decades. Well, centuries. Hell, millennia.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m more surprised he didn’t throw in a snipe at Section 230 while he was at it.

You’d think that for somebody who wields so much influence, he can warn Masnick and demand that other users treat his common-as-muck pseudonym with godlike reverence, he wouldn’t be THIS insecure about the copyright-driven elite he wants to emulate.

I mean sure, it’s more proof that Smith is routinely full of shit, but it’s pretty pathetic he doesn’t even have the ability tp be consistent with his trolling.

Personanongrata says:

The Tyranny of Bail

It cannot be used to lock accused suspects up for "public safety" reasons. But this reaction by city prosecutors makes it clear they believe they can use the system the way the law says they can’t.

A cruel and unfortunately very common punishment that is meted out innumerable times daily by the very persons who have sworn to uphold the law.

Would keeping presumed innocent persons locked up using excessive bail fall under the heading of:

Rule of Law


Rule of Man

Justice may be the rarest of elements found on planet Earth if it exists at all.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: The difference between 'suspicion' and 'knowledge'

It’s similar to the NSA leaks. People suspected a lot of things, but you can’t do anything about a suspected action, and it’s easy to brush it off. Once the leaks went public however we had confirmation, and that you can actually do something about.

A suspicion, even an extremely strong one, that the NYC prosecutors were setting bail for illegal reasons you can’t really act on. Them all but admitting to it however can be acted upon.

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