A New York City councilman is calling for a Justice Department investigation into the bail system in the city, citing thousands of indigent defendants languishing in Rikers Island because they can’t pay $500 or $1,000 in bail money.

In an Aug. 22 letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Southern District U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Councilman Rory Lancman requested the U.S. Justice Department investigate whether bail and pretrial detention practices for indigent defendants in New York violate the Constitution.

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