NYC to end cash bail for non-violent offenses

New York City will end its system of cash bail for non-violent and low-level offenders as they await trial, the city announced on Wednesday.

The $17.8 million plan will likely go into effect next year. Instead of bail, there will be supervision options such as daily check-ins, text message reminders and therapy connections.

According to the city, about 45,000 people, or 14 percent of all people who come through New York City courts, are detained on bail at arraignment. The system of bail has long been criticized as unfairly targeting the poor who cannot afford even low bail amounts.

In a statement, Mayor Bill de Blasio called the bail system “unacceptable.” “There is a very real human cost to how our criminal justice system treats people while they wait for trial,” de Blasio said in a statement.

The NYCLU applauded the decision, issuing a statement calling it an “important step toward making our criminal justice system more just.”

The issue took an urgent turn after the suicide of Kalief Browder last month. Browder, 22, had been arrested when he was 16 and unable to make $3,000 bail on charges that he stole a backpack. He was detained at Rikers Island for three years, where he endured abuse by guards and was placed in solitary confinement. The charges were eventually dropped.