New law to eliminate cash bail, release prisoners

Posted: Updated:

A new state law goes into effect in January that will eliminate cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies.

New York City has identified nearly 900 people who are currently behind bars awaiting trial that can apply to have their bail lifted and be freed.

They'll also be given incentives to show up for future court dates such as gift cards and Dunkin'.

"If you think about the amount of doughnuts you can buy with the amount it costs to keep one person in Rikers for a day, it is a brilliant incentive," said Alice Fontier, the managing director of the Bronx Defenders.

To avoid an overflow of applications at the beginning of the year, some judges have already begun the process.

The Office of Court Administration says it plans to stagger the release of defendants starting in mid-December.

There are over 400 offenses that fall under this new law, including criminally negligent homicide and endangering the welfare of a child.

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