As a litigator who 50 plus years ago co-authored an article on the problems in the defense of Indigent Defendants ( Mass. L.Q. Vol XLVII No. 4 Dec 1963, updated B.U.Pub. Int. L. J. Vol. 26 No2. Summer 2017) I followed with great interest the Law Journal article reporting last evening’s NYSBA forum on bail reform proposals calling for elimination of bail for non-violent felony and misdemeanor defendants too poor to make cash bail.
Studies show that a majority of these defendants are minorities with about 80 percent in New York City being black or Hispanic. While lingering in jail they are subject to job loss and other dislocations to them and their families and societal costs. The mainly upstate district attorneys who oppose, base their objections on the logistics of implementing such a program and a “push back“ on achieving a “disposition on the alleged crime.” This latter point admits that incarceration pressures the indigent to plead guilty. The bail proposal is a step to achieving equality for those financially disadvantaged and a reminder it’s not a crime to be poor.
Lewis Rosenberg is of counsel
to Ginarte Gallardo Gonzalez Winograd.