Saturday, March 4, 2017


Successful Charitable Bail Organization Across The State Will Help A Greater Number of New Yorkers Avoid Unnecessary Time Behind Bars Under New Bill

   State Senator Gustavo Rivera introduces bill S4776 in the New York State Senate. This bill expands the current scope of the law regulating charitable bail organizations, which was sponsored by Senator Rivera and signed into law by Governor Cuomo in 2012, by enabling charitable bail organizations to provide greater assistance to low-income New Yorkers who cannot afford bail. This bill is sponsored by Assemblymember Michael Blake in the New York State Assembly. 

Bill S4776 will seek to implement the following measures:

1. Reducing the certification fee required by the New York State Department of Financial Services from $1000 to $500. The current $1,000 certification fee has been a financial burden for the charitable bail organizations operating in the State. Their limited funds would be better utilized in the operation of their organization.

2. Raising the cap for which charitable bail organizations can post bail for from $2,000 to $5,000. Under the current charitable bail law, organizations are only able to post bail for individuals charged with a misdemeanor. However, a number of counties across the State tend to set bail at a significantly higher rate for misdemeanor charges.

3. Removing the regional/geographical limit that currently states that charitable bail organization can only operate in one county in Upstate New York and Long Island.

"No one should be forced to sit in jail awaiting trial or plea to a charge they did not commit because they cannot afford bail. This bill will further strengthen our State's current charitable bail fund law by expanding how these organizations can operate and lower the financial barriers that hinder more organizations from obtaining the appropriate certification," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "Expanding these cost-saving programs will provide countless of struggling New Yorkers with a fairer alternative to navigating our criminal justice system." 

"No one should be denied an opportunity for Justice because they couldn't afford it.  Kalief Browder and countless others were waiting on a chance to be heard just because of economic hardships, and that injustice cannot continue. An estimated half million people daily remain in custody due to the inability to post bail, nationally. The cost of keeping individuals detained is not only a burden on taxpayers of New York, but also has a tremendous impact on the detainees, their families and their communities. In response to this, nonprofit organizations have begun to raise money via individual and private donations, creating charitable bail organizations. During the 2011 legislative session, the Assembly and Senate voted to officially recognize and regulate these charitable bail organizations.  This bill continues the regulation of charitable bail organization and further advances assistance by increasing the ceiling on the bail posted by individuals. The  New York State Assembly has already passed this vital piece of legislation. With Senator Rivera's  sponsorship , we hope that this bill will soon pass the Senate and become law." said State Assemblymember Michael Blake.

The success of the charitable bail fund programs has been undeniable. During its first year, the first organization licensed as a charitable bail organization, the Bronx Freedom Fund, helped 140 low-income Bronx residents facing a misdemeanor case where bail is set at $2000 or less. In addition, 98 percent of these clients made all required court appearances, 56 percent of these cases ended in dismissals where all of the charges were dropped, 23 percent of the cases resulted in non-criminal disposition and 9 percent of the clients plead guilty to a misdemeanor.

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