New York City will start releases defendants arrested for low-level, non-violent offenses without requiring bail of they go to therapy or submit to other supervision under a new plan aimed at reducing the number of people held at the infamous Rikers Island jail.
The reform comes after a series of nightmare stories about people held for months in the jail on minor charges because they could not afford to bail out. For example, Kalief Browder was 16 years old when he began a three-year stint in the jail while awaiting trial for stealing a backpack. The charges were eventually dropped. Browder's plight became more tragic when he killed himself last month at the age of 22.
The criminal justice coordinator for the New York Mayor's office told the Associated Press that Browder's and other cases raised awareness for the need to reform the system. "We want to focus on risk to be the determining factor to decide if someone will be in or out; and it has to be risk, not money," said Elizabeth Glazer.
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