Bail Lab Ideas Address Cash Bail System

The website Bail Lab crowdsources ideas to address a bail system stuck on the inconvenience of "cash bail only" and has led to solutions at New York courts.


By Brenton Mock

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Last week New York City announced new measures to help reduce jail transfers due to lack of access to post cash bail at the court house.

The ideas come from Bail Lab, a website the city's Office of Criminal Justice launched last year to help reform the antiquated bail bonds system that relies on cash payments. According to City Lab, those arrested are brought to courthouses when there are few options to access cash for bail payments.

Inability to access cash and pay bail directly after arraignment can mean transfer to Rikers Island."

It seems that many people accused are languishing in jail because they cannot afford to pay bail. The measures New York is working on now are:

  • ATMs for all criminal courthouses. New ATMs will be installed so that every criminal court across the city has one.
  • Releasing a comprehensive User Guide to Paying Bail. Information about bail payment online will be posted on the city's 311 and the Bail Lab websites and shared in informational packets given to families at arraignments.
  • Exploring options to pay bail using a credit card. The city is working with the New York Office of Court Administration to explore options where a defendant can pay his or her own bail with a credit or debit card.

A number of other ideas from Bail Lab are also in motion.

Learn more in the original story on The Atlantic's City Lab website.

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