Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation this week that would allow the creation of charitable organizations in New York State which could post up to $2,000 in bail for low-income defendants charged with misdemeanor crimes.
"It is unacceptable for defendants to have to spend time in jail for low-level crimes they may have not committed simply because they are unable to meet the bail requirement," Governor Cuomo said, in a statement. "This law to allow the creation of not-for-profit charitable groups to cover the cost of bail for poor individuals held on a misdemeanor charge will help ensure that the state's justice system works for all defendants regardless of their income."
Before this legislation, organizations that wanted to post bail for a defendant would have to meet the same requirements that for-profit bail bond businesses do. The new law will allow charitable bail organizations to function with fewer requirements, though still under the oversight and regulation of the Department of Financial Services.
Charitable bond organizations will be allowed to provide no more than $2,000 in bail, and only for defendants charged with one or more misdemeanors who are financially unable to post bail. They will be required to register as a 501(c)(3) organization and may not charge a premium or fee for their services The law takes effect in 90 days.
"Too often, innocent individuals must deal with the consequences of a guilty plea because they cannot afford bail, one serious flaw in our criminal justice system,” said Assemblyman Karim Camara. “By allowing non-profits to post small amounts of bail for misdemeanor crimes we are giving individuals a chance to continue their lives while they pursue justice and not hastily plea to a crime and then deal with the ramifications.”