Lawmakers look to ban commercial bail bonds companies

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Saturday, April 21, 2018
Lawmakers look to ban commercial bail bonds companies
Bill Ritter reports on the debate to ban commercial bail bonds companies.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Doing away with bail has been debated and talked about for years as part of reforming the criminal justice system.

Some New Yorkers stay in jail longer than they would if convicted because they can't afford bail. Now, lawmakers are pushing to ban commercial bail bonds companies.

In 2016, TJ Shivers was arrested - the charges were dropped, but now she is facing eviction.

Now, Shivers is the face of bail bond reform in New York City.

"I had to come up with $350 to bond out. So the only way I could get that money was take it out of my rent money, so that's what I did," she said.

Elected officials say it is time for change. Two state lawmakers have introduced a bill that would ban the commercial bail bond reform bill.

"More than half the people at Rikers are there a large part because they can't afford bail," says Michael Blake.

People like Kalief Browder - accused of stealing a backpack at age 16. He spent three years at Rikers because his family could not afford $10,000 to bail him out.

"This has nothing to do with public safety," says Comptroller Scott Stringer.

The comptroller says the city spends $100 million a year to lock up people who can't afford bail. The bail bond industry says this reform is a bad idea.

"It's politically motivated by multi-million dollar groups," said New York State Bailbondsman Al Rodriguez.

Rodriguez says part of his job is to help defendants' families by getting their loved ones out of jail. He says his industry saves taxpayers' money by tracking down people who do not show up for court.

The comptroller says judges can make sure defendants show up for court by relying on bond instead.

The lawmakers who proposed the bill say they are optimistic it will pass.


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