By David Brand
The City Council on Tuesday passed a bill requiring the Department of Correction to notify detainees when their total bail amount is less than $10.
The bill, introduced by Queens Councilmember and DA Candidate Rory Lancman, directs the DOC to create a list of people detained on bail lower than $10 twice each day. DOC must then notify the detainees and attempt to contact their defense counsel.
At least 149 individuals were held on just $1 bail between August 2018 to December 2018, the Daily News reported.
“$1 bail is part of the nightmare of cash bail,” Lancman said. “We’ve heard too many horror stories of people stuck on Rikers Island because of confusion or a communication breakdown over $1 bail — and that ends today.”
A judge sets $1 bail when a defendant has at least one other pending case. Outdated software forces people to be held on $1 bail as an accounting mechanism to ensure that they receive credit for time served, according to the Dollar Bail Brigade, a project of the Bronx Freedom Fund. Individuals cannot pay their own bail.
"Our movement of nearly 1,000 New Yorkers, who have been moved by the urgency of this issue to give their time and energy to posting these $1 bails and getting our neighbors out of pretrial jail cells, represents a widespread recognition of the inherent injustices of bail and pretrial detention and the need for change,” said Dollar Bail Brigade Founding Director Amanda Lawson. “We commend action by the City Council in alleviating some of the suffering and delays created by the current policies, and look forward to future collaboration on the kind of reform that would make our direct action no longer necessary,”