By Kirsten Sanchez- Bronx Times
Everyone has a right to justice, not only those who are fortunate enough to be able to afford it. Senator Gustavo Rivera is working to help those who can not help themselves. The Senator’s Charitable Bail Bonds Bill was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday, July 17. The bill will allow charitable organizations to post bail for individuals who can not afford to do so themselves.
“I want to thank Governor Cuomo for working with Assembly Member Jeff Aubry and me to make the justice system fairer for working class people by making it legal for charitable organizations to post bail for those who cannot afford to do so themselves,” Rivera said. “Both in the Bronx and throughout New York, working people plead guilty to misdemeanors, despite their innocence, because they can’t afford bail and are trying to avoid the devastating consequences that come with jail time while awaiting trial such as job loss, child custody issues or eviction. The alternative is just as bad or worse - an unwarranted conviction on their record. This law takes an important step toward leveling the playing field for working people and creating a more just bail system.”
The bill was based on a pilot project in the Bronx where a fund called the Bronx Freedom Fund was created and functioned for three years posting small amount of bail for individuals who could not afford it.
The results yielded that 95% of people bailed out returned to every court date, and 50% of clients had their cases dismissed or had cases not result in criminal convictions.
“Rivera’s leadership has led to this bill that will allow non-profit organizations to provide bail assistance to people in jail who have not been convicted of any crime, but who remain there because they don’t have enough money to post bail,” said Robin Steinberg, Executive Director of the Bronx Defenders.