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Report: Bail Penalizes NYC’s Poor Defendants

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A Jail Cell - File / Photo: JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images

Jail Cell (credit: Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (AP) — A new report says thousands of people arrested each year for minor crimes in New York City cannot afford to post bail and on average spend 16 days in jail.

The advocacy group Human Rights Watch says most of the defendants were accused of low-level offenses such as shoplifting, turnstile jumping, trespassing, drug possession and prostitution.

It found that 87 percent of defendants arrested on nonfelony charges in 2008 were unable to post even small amounts of bail of
$1,000 or less at their arraignment.

Under state law, City judges are supposed to take defendants’ financial resources into account when setting bail.

The 70-page report calculated that the city could have saved about $42 million in 2008 on 16,649 nonfelony defendants unable to make bail.

(Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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