Big Ideas: Debtors Prisons?

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Title: Assisting the Poor to Make Bail Helps Everyone
By: Tina Rosenberg, New York Times

MAKING BAIL

Even when bail is set at $1,000 or less, only 15 percent of misdemeanor defendants given it in New York City can make bail at arraignment. They are fortunate; those who wait for trial outside jail have a 70 percent chance their case will be dismissed or reduced to a noncriminal traffic-ticket-style violation. Those who can’t make bail — more than 12,000 people in 2015 — have two choices. One is to fight their case — and while that’s happening, wait in jail. Very few people choose that option. Instead, they eventually plead guilty — even if they are, in fact, not guilty. That lets them go home right away, but the resulting criminal record will follow them like a cloud, raining forever on their job and housing prospects.”

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