Jail bail fail

Red tape de­lays aid to in­mates

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY REUVEN BLAU

An am­bi­tious plan to bail out hun­dreds of women and teens from city jails was meant as a well-in­ten­tioned gift — one that’s now wrapped in red tape.

When the idea was an­nounced last month, the Robert F. Kennedy Hu­man Rights group ex­pected to be able to bail as many as 60 peo­ple out ev­ery day, ac­cord­ing to an email to vol­un­teers ob­tained by the Daily News.

But since it launched last week, the hoped-for del­uge has been more like a trickle, thanks in large part to to the Cor­rec­tion Depart­ment’s ar­chaic bail-pro­cess­ing sys­tem, the group has said.

“They have made clear that they are sim­ply in­ca­pable of pro­cess­ing a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of bails per day,” the non­profit said in an email to vol­un­teers Tues­day.

The group had a rude awak­en­ing in the first days of its cam­paign when a vol­un­teer posted bail in the af­ter­noon but the in­mate didn’t get out un­til 2 a.m. — too late to meet with so­cial ser­vices.

Now the Robert F. Kennedy Hu­man Rights group sends vol­un­teers to Rik­ers Is­land with bail only be­tween the hours of 9 a.m. and noon — the lat­est it can spring an in­mate and be sure the per­son can ac­cess help.

Each in­mate sits down with a so­cial worker from the group or an­other city char­ity, who help se­cur­ing hous­ing, among other is­sues.

“Our com­mit­ment is to do this re­spon­si­bly,” said Wade McMullen, 35, the group’s man­ag­ing at­tor­ney. “It’s re­ally im­por­tant to us to en­sure the con­nec­tion to ser­vices is seam­less.”

The slow sched­ule means some vol­un­teers set to de­liver bail money — by law, bail can be paid only by an in­di­vid­ual — have noth­ing to do.

On Thurs­day, the group would not spec­ify how many in­mates have been re­leased.

McMullen said “dozens of peo­ple” put for­ward by Le­gal Aid, ad­vo­cacy groups and pub­lic de­fend­ers have left jail due to the pro­gram.

The Kennedy char­ity has raised more than $3 mil­lion.

But crim­i­nal jus­tice ex­perts say it would likely take more than $30 mil­lion to bail out 500 women and teens.

McMullen said there’s no num­ber that de­fines suc­cess.

“We don’t want to set an ar­ti­fi­cial goal about num­bers to dic­tate me­chan­ics,” he said. “We are show­ing there’s an al­ter­na­tive to putting a hu­man be­ing in a cage pre­trial.”

The de Bla­sio ad­min­is­tra­tion has as­sisted the ini­tia­tive, ap­prov­ing a cen­ter out­side Rik­ers where vol­un­teers greet in­mates with cell phones, Metro Cards or trans­porta­tion to hous­ing.

City Hall spokes­woman Natalie Gry­bauskas de­nied there were is­sues with the bail sys­tem — but it did re­quest no bail-outs past 6 p.m. to avoid night re­leases.

“No one will be turned away from a bail win­dow if they have the money to pay some­one’s bail, pe­riod.”

The hu­man rights group ini­tially planned to bail out 60 peo­ple each day, ac­cord­ing to an email to vol­un­teers.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.