New York City Council

Online bail payments in NYC delayed one year

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has once again pushed back its timeline for allowing arrested New Yorkers to make bail payments online, pegging the start date for April 2018.

City Hall originally said the service would be ready by spring 2017, and told The Wall Street Journal in October that it would be ready by the end of this year. The new system would allow friends and family of an incarcerated person to pay his or her bail online or by phone instead of having to go in person to a New York City Department of Correction facility – such as Rikers Island.

Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Director Elizabeth Glazer said there are still “a whole bunch” of steps that need to happen before the online bail system is functional.

“It’s like opening the hood of a car and finding out everything else has to be fixed … essentially many, many different systems in the corrections department needed to get upgraded and brought into the modern day,” she said.

RELATED: A vision of a post-Rikers New York

Glazer testified Monday in front of the New York City Council’s Fire and Criminal Justice Services Committee at a hearing on the administration’s progress toward closing Rikers Island.

City Councilman Rory Lancman chairs the Committee on Courts and Legal Services and has advocated for bail reform. He called the changing deadline “a profound disappointment.”

“Too many New Yorkers are stuck on Rikers Island solely because the process to pay bail is such a nightmare. The city’s inability to bring the bail payment process into the 21st century is only adding to the problem of unnecessary and expensive incarceration,” he said.

Making it easier to pay bail was the first goal listed in the de Blasio administration’s “roadmap to closing Rikers.” According to the report, three-quarters of people who pay bail do so within a week of arraignment. Online bail payments could mean more incarcerated people would be released before even entering Department of Correction custody, reducing the population at Rikers Island and other city jails.