A few months back, we wrote a post about a new law enforcement program being tested in the Pacific Northwest. Under the program, low-level offenders were placed into diversionary support groups with a case manager — instead of throwing them in handcuffs and starting a potentially endless cycle of crime for that individual — and, as a result, their recidivism chances dropped significantly.
That program is being hailed, and now New York City is trying a new approach to criminal charges (though it has nothing to do with the aforementioned diversion program). New York City will be dramatically altering it’s bail system, allowing judges to forego setting bail and, in exchange, place the accused in a supervisory program that involves daily meetings and text message check-ins.
The program will only be allowed for certain people who are low-level offenders, and only a certain number of defendants will be eligible throughout the year.
It’s great to see cities and municipalities taking steps to limit the number of low-level offenders who are dramatically affected by the criminal justice system. These people are often thrown in to the system (and their acquired criminal history punishes them endlessly) for very minor crimes that should not ruin a person’s life in the way that they do.
Creating more of these programs that promote leniency and, most importantly, are humane and treat people fairly is a huge step for our society. A relatively minor criminal act should not necessarily damn a person to a life without job prospects or promise.
Source: Slate, “NYC Plan Will End Bail for Thousands of Low-Level Offenders,” Anna Diamond, July 8, 2015