METROFOCUS: APRIL 17, 2019

April 18, 2019 at 5:30 am

Is eliminating “cash bail” a step toward judicial equality, or will it ultimately be a danger to the community? We have the details. Plus, after years of unparalleled violence in Baltimore, a diverse group of people are working together to reverse the deadly trend. And, if you’re looking for something fun to do, we’ve got your ticket and are taking you behind the scenes of one of the hottest shows in New York.

Aired on April 17, 2019.

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>>> GOOD EVENING.
WELCOME TO "METROFOCUS."
NEW YORK'S BAIL REFORM.
FAIR OR DANGEROUS?
STARTING NEXT YEAR PEOPLE
ACCUSED OF THE VAST IN A JORT OF
CRIMES WON'T BE SEEING THE
INSIDE OF A JAIL CELL.
THAT'S BECAUSE THE STATE'S NEW
BUDGET WILL HAVE VIRTUALLY
ELIMINATED THE CASH BAIL SYSTEM
WHICH OPPONENTS SAY UNFAIRLY
PENALIZES THE POOR AND PEOPLE OF
COLOR.
BUT AS BAIL REFORM CREATES
JUDICIAL EQUITY, WHY HAVE THE
DISTRICTS FROM ACROSS THE STREET
INCLUDING HERE IN BROOKLYN AND
SUFFOLK COUNTY, SUMMONED THE
ALARM AGAINST THEM CALLING IT A
I
, QUOTE, DANGEROUS MISTAKE.
MAX, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.
>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.
>> SO FIRST BEFORE WE EVEN GET
INTO THE BAIL REFORM IN THOSE
STATE BUDGETS, I WANT TO GO BACK
AND TALK ABOUT A MASS BAILOUT
PROJECT THAT YOUR ORGANIZATION
UNDERTOOK.
WHAT WAS IT AND WHAT WAS IT
SUPPOSED TO ILLUSTRATE?
>> SO THE MASS BAILOUT WE
UNDERTOOK WITH A BUNCH OF OTHER
LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS IS THE
LARGEST SINGLE MASS BAILOUT OF
PRETRIAL DETAINEES ANYWHERE IN
AMERICA, ANYWHERE IN HISTORY.
WE DID 102 DETAINEES.
IT TOOK ABOUT $102 MILLION.
A LOT OF THOSE PEOPLE WERE IN
JAIL ON $100, $10, A FEW ON $1
BAIL.
AND WE'RE PROUD TO REPORT THAT
95% OF THOSE SHOWED UP TO COURT,
WENT TO THEIR HEARINGS.
THE SKY DIDN'T FALL.
THE STREETS DIDN'T RUN RED WITH
VIOLENCE.
EVERYTHING CONTINUED JUST AS IT
IS WHICH SHOWS YOU HOW GROWN
BAIL PROCESS IS.
>> SO YOU'RE SAYING 95% OF THE
PEOPLE WHO ARE BAILED OUT DID
ATTEND AND GO TO COURT FOR THEIR
CASES.
HOWEVER IT SEEMS TO ME THE
PROBLEM THE DISTRICT ATTORNEYS
WERE RAISING THE FLAG FOR
DIDN'T.
THAT SOME OF THEM MIGHT BE
INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS.
THEY MIGHT BE PEOPLE WHO SHOULD
BE BEING HELD BEHIND BARS UNTIL
THEIR CASE IS BROUGHT TO TRIAL.
SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE TO
THAT?
>> WELL, THAT IS ON A JUDGE THE
DECIDE.
THAT JUST CAME OUT OF ALBANY AS
WELL.
THEY HAVE TO SHOW IN THE RECORD
EVIDENTIARY REASONS TO KEEP
SOMEONE IN JAIL.
THE PROBLEM WITH THIS IS, THE
PEOPLE THAT WERE HELD ON BAIL
HAVE NOT BEEN CONVICTED OF ANY
CRIME.
THEY'RE INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN
GUILTY.
SO WHAT WE'RE SAYING IS, WE'RE
FINE WITH PEOPLE GETTING OUT IF
THEY CAN PAY THEIR OWN WAY.
PEOPLE ARE BAILED OUT EVERY DAY.
THEY'RE JUST WEALTHY PEOPLE.
WHEN SOMEONE ELSE BAILS OUT
LOWER INCOME PEOPLE, WHO ARE
MORE DIRECTLY AFFECTED BY BEING
IN JAIL, THAT IS A PROBLEM.
SUDDENLY THAT'S A RISK.
AND IT SHOWS YOU A LOT OF THE
RACE BASED FEAR AND A LOT OF THE
CLASS BASED FEAR GOES INTO BAIL.
>> WELL, ONE OF THE THINGS SOME
PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN LUCKY
ENOUGH TO NEVER HAVE GOTTEN
ENTWINED IN THE LEGAL SYSTEM
THIS WAY, WOULD NOT QUITE
UNDERSTAND IT.
FOR A LOT OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO
BAILED OUT, WHAT WERE THEY IN
JAIL FOR?
>> 70% OF PEOPLE WAITING IN JAIL
ON BAIL IN NEW YORK ARE THERE
FOR MISDEMEANOR CRIMES.
AND THESE ARE THINGS THAT ARE NO
LONGER GOING TO WIND YOU UP IN
JAIL, WAITING TO PAY BAIL UNDER
THIS NEW LAW OUT OF ALBANY.
THAT'S HUGE.
THIS SORT OF CREATES AND THROWS
A PROBLEM INTO SHARPER CONTRAST.
BECAUSE YOU CANNOT HAVE A SYSTEM
WHERE WE SAY, THERE IS EQUAL
JUSTICE UNDER LAW.
BUT ALSO, IF YOU PAY, YOU CAN
HAVE BETTER OUTCOME.
THOSE ARE FUNDAMENTALLY
INCOMPATIBLE IDEAS.
SO IF WE'RE GOING TO SAY, BAIL
IS UNJUST AND UNFAIR AND DOES
NOT HELP JUSTICE IN 90% OF
CASES, WE SHOULD HAVE THE
POLITICAL COURAGE TO SAY IT
WON'T HELP IN THE OTHER TEN
EITHER.
AND JUST GET RID OF CASH BAIL AS
GOVERNOR CUOMO PROMISED, AS
AMERICANS DESERVE.
>> WELL, IF THE CASH BAIL SYSTEM
IS TO COMPLETELY GO AWAY, LIKE
IF THEORY IT WILL BE, AT LEAST
IN 2020, WHAT THEN BECOMES OF,
WHAT IS THE INCENTIVE TO FORCE
PEOPLE TO MAKE SURE THEY GO
THROUGH WITH THEIR OBLIGATION TO
GO TO COURT?
>> WE FIND SURPRISINGLY, IT
DOESN'T TAKE A LOT OF COURSE.
WHEN PEOPLE'S LIVES ARE ON THE
LINE, IT IS NOT LIKE MISSING A
CYCLE WHICH IS A OR YOU HAVE TO
PAY $20.
THEY'RE LOSING THEIR FREEDOM.
WE FOUND WITH NEW JERSEY, WHICH
REMOVED CASH BAIL, MARYLAND,
D.C., THEY PROVIDED THINGS LIKE
ELECTRONIC MONITORING, HOME
ARREST, PRETRIAL SERVICES, FOR
DRUG ADDICTION, ALCOHOLISM, TO
KEEP PEOPLE IN THEIR HOMES WITH
THEIR FAMILIES SO THEY CAN GO TO
WORK.
THEY WON'T LOSE THEIR JOB.
THEIR FAMILY WON'T LOSE THEIR
HOME.
AND WE CAN STOP COMPOUNDING
THESE PROBLEMS THAT CREATE MORE
CRIME.
>> AND IS THERE ANY INDICATION
OF WHETHER THIS WILL ALSO HELP
TO LOWER THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE
WHO ARE IN JAIL?
BECAUSE AS WE'VE HEARD, A LOT OF
PEOPLE SIT IN JAIL FOR A VERY
LONG TIME WAITING FOR THE COURT
SYSTEM ON BRING THEM UP TO
TRIAL.
>> YES.
ROB F. KENNEDY REPRESENTED PEDRO
HERNANDEZ, A TEAM FOR THE BRONX.
AN HONOR STUDENT FALSELY ACCUSED
OF SHOOTING SOMEONE, WAS HELD IN
REICHERS FOR 11 MONTHS WITHOUT
TRIAL.
BECAUSE HE WOULD NOT PLEAD
GUILTY IN A PLEA DEAL.
AND HE MAINTAINED HIS INNOCENCE
THE ENTIRE TIME.
AS SOON AS HE WAS LET OUT.
AS SOON AS WE SECURED HIS
RELEASE.
THE CHARGES WERE DROPPED.
BECAUSE PROSECUTORS UNDERSTOOD
THAT THE ONLY CASE THEY HAD
AGAINST HIM WAS TO KEEP HIM IN A
VIOLENT PRISON, TO THREATEN HIM
EVERY DAY WITH LARGER SENTENCES,
WITH LONGER TIME, AND AS SOON AS
THEY COULDN'T MANIPULATE PEDRO,
LIKE SO MANY OTHERS INTO PLEA
AGREEMENTS, THE CASE VANISHED.
>> WHAT ABOUT THE IDEA OF ALL OF
THIS CASH THAT'S RAISED FROM THE
BAIL SYSTEM?
FIRST OF ALL, DO WE KNOW WHERE
IT IS GOING?
WHERE IT WAS BEING COLLECTED?
AND WITH THIS THEORY BUDGET
HOLE, SOMETHING WILL HAVE TO
FILL IT.
>> YEAH.
ONE OF THE INTERESTING THINGS IS
TO FOLLOW THE MONEY HERE AND SEE
THAT THIS IS SUCH A HOT TOPIC.
A LOT OF PEOPLE MAKE A LOT OF
MONEY.
BAIL BONDS, FEES FOR THE CITY.
THESE ARE DECEPTIVE.
BECAUSE NEW YORK CITY MADE ABOUT
$2.5 MILLION ON BAIL FEES LAST
YEAR.
WE SPENT $100 MILLION KEEPING
THOSE PEOPLE IN JAIL PRETRIAL.
ABOUT $200,000 PER DETAINEE.
AND NOBODY, DEMOCRAT,
REPUBLICAN, POLICE OFFICERS,
EDUCATORS, LIBERAL
CONSERVATIVES, WOULD ARGUE THAT
WE'RE BETTER OFF SPENDING
$200,000 JAILING A TEENAGER,
RATHER THAN GETTING THEM SOME
HELP AND GETTING THEM IN SCHOOL.
THE COST SAVINGS FROM JUST NOT
INCARCERATING SO MANY PEOPLE
WILL MORE THAN MAKE UP FOR THE
MONEY THAT'S QUITE FRANKLY GOING
INTO PRIVATE HANDS ANYWAY.
IT IS NOT MONEY MAKING IT BACK
TO THE STATES.
IT IS ENRICHING BAIL BONDSMEN,
MIDDLE MEN, AND PEOPLE THAT KEEP
THIS SYSTEM GOING.
>> WELL, ONE OF THE THINGS I
WANT TO CIRCLE BACK TO IS THE
REBUTTAL THAT THE D.A. PUBLISHED
IN THE DAILY NEWS.
>> IN CASES THAT HAVE BEEN
OUTLINED IN THE LAW AND EXISTS
ALREADY, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, SEX
OFFENSES, THEY ARE REIMAGINEDED
INTO CUSTODY.
IT IS NOT LIKE WE'RE CATCHING
AND RELEASING PEOPLE THAT HAVE
MURDERED PEOPLE, OR THAT BAIL
CAN BE EASILY ARGUED.
THE ONLY DIFFERENCE HERE IS NOW
THE JUDGES HAVE TO ACTUALLY SHOW
A LEGAL REASON.
>> ALL RIGHT.
WELL, LISTEN, THANK YOU
DEFINITELY FOR YOUR WORK FOR THE
MASSIVE BAILOUT.
THAT SOUNDS LIKE IT WAS
INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT AND
ILLUSTRATED A HUGE PROBLEM WITH
OUR JUDICIAL SYSTEM.
BUT ALSO, WE'LL BE FOLLOWING THE
STORY TO SEE HOW IT DEVELOPS.
THANK YOU.
>> THANK YOU.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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