For Immediate Release
November 5, 2018
Contact: Katie Schaffer — firstname.lastname@example.org
Bail Bonds Accountability Coalition Groups Support Bill to Eliminate Credit Card Fees Associated with Bail Payment in NYC
On Wednesday, New York City Council Members Keith Powers and Rory Lancman introduced a bill to eliminate the fees associated with credit card bail payments, taking yet another step in decommercializing New York City’s criminal legal system. Intro 1199 would remove the 2.49% fee on credit card payments made online and the 8% fee on credit card payments made in-person at correctional facilities.
Increasingly, New Yorkers who have contact with our criminal legal system come away with unaffordable debts that extract wealth from vulnerable communities and create obstacles to success. The fees on credit card bail payment addressed by this bill exacerbate the harms caused by money bail and, as with all harms perpetuated by the criminal legal system, they disproportionately impact the communities of color and low-income communities the system targets.
The undersigned groups strongly support Intro 1199 and welcome the Council Members’ eagerness to take local actions that lessen the harm of money bail and the power of the bail bonds industry, however slightly.
Yet, thousands of New Yorkers will continue to languish in jail pretrial, unable to afford the bail that prosecutors request and judges set. Removing profit motives and economic harm from the bail system will require legislation at the state level. We encourage Governor Cuomo to read the Council Members’ action as an appeal for transformative bail legislation in Albany that decarcerates jails, ends economic harm, protects the presumption of innocence, ensures due process, and ends the criminalization of low-income New Yorkers.
- Corrections Accountability Project
- New Economy Project
- Brooklyn Community Bail Fund
- Brooklyn Defender Services
- Center for Popular Democracy
- Legal Aid Society
- Color Of Change
- New York County Defender Services
- Bronx Defenders
- Mobilization for Justice, Inc.
- Bronx Freedom Fund
For Immediate Release
August 24, 2018
Contact: Nick Encalada-Malinowski 347-259-4835 or email@example.com
Bail Bond Accountability Coalition Responds to New Regulations Suggested by Cuomo Administration
New York, NY — In response to a recent announcement by Governor Cuomo about new regulations planned for the Bail Bond Industry in New York, the Bail Bond Accountability Coalition released the following statement.
“On Tuesday Governor Andrew Cuomo acknowledged that the commercial bail bond industry is ‘riddled with harmful practices and abuses of vulnerable New Yorkers, frequently those from marginalized groups.’ We agree — the problems in the industry are endemic, they will not be solved by rooting out a few bad actors. In response to these findings, however, the Cuomo administration had an opportunity to support a bill to eliminate the bail bond industry entirely, but took a pass, choosing instead to promulgate additional regulations through the Department of Financial Services (DFS).
Historically, Cuomo has not empowered DFS to regulate the industry strenuously, which has resulted in the status quo — bail bond agents operating any way that they want. Members of this coalition have filed many complaints to DFS on behalf of consumers regarding clear violations of the existing regulations, which are almost never enforced. Bail bond agents currently are able to deceive vulnerable consumers with impunity. The new regulations will only be productive and meaningful if they are tied to robust enforcement, penalties and transparency – issues left out of the recent release by the Cuomo Administration. We have requested a meeting with DFS Superintendent Maria Vullo to share our concerns and look forward to that conversation.”
About the Bail Bonds Accountability Coalition:
Justice requires the complete elimination of wealth- and race-based detention. In pursuit of this ultimate goal, we seek the meaningful regulation, contraction, and eventual replacement of the commercial bail bonds industry through the increased use of existing alternative forms of bail and release without conditions. We also demand a commitment from the state to create non-predatory support structures that meet the needs of those who have had to depend on the industry for release, ensuring that its dissolution truly results in decarceration. Finally, in our fight to end the multi-million dollar transfer of wealth from low-income communities of color to the pockets of private industry, we also seek to provide redress for those who have already been exploited.
News About the Campaign:
In the Amsterdam News: New City Council Bill Helps Citizens Avoid Bail Bond Pitfalls. “The commercial bail bond industry exists in just two countries in the world—the U.S. and the Philippines—and siphons off at least $20 million a year from mostly low-income communities of color in New York City,” said BBAC’s emailed statement. “Because the Industry is primarily regulated by the State of New York these bills (Intros 510 and 724) represent most of what New York City alone can do to rein in the industry and protect consumers.”
In the New York Times: As commercial bail has grown into a $2 billion industry, bond agents have become the payday lenders of the criminal justice world, offering quick relief to desperate customers at high prices.
In the New York Times: NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer calls for the elimination of the bail bonds industry.
In the Indypendent: “The for-profit bail bond industry has a history of exploiting economically disadvantaged consumers in their most desperate hours: after the arrest and incarceration of a loved one,” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas.
In Rewire: “They tell you one thing, and they end up doing something else with your money,” Myrna Jones said about bail bond companies. “You never end up getting nothing back, and you were told that you would get your money back.”
In the New York Times: Pretty much everyone who spends any time examining the American system of secured cash bail comes away with the same conclusion: It’s unjust, expensive and ineffective, even counterproductive. The only defender of the system, it seems, is the industry that profits from it.
In the Daily News: The commercial bail bonds industry, banned globally in all countries except the U.S. and the Philippines, is a booming, $14 billion a year business nationwide. In 2016, roughly 12,000 bail bonds were executed in courts in New York City, requiring families to pay millions in upfront premiums, collateral and illegal fees. The industry is so poorly regulated that no one in New York collects an accurate estimate of these numbers, including the Department of Financial Services, the state agency responsible for oversight.
In the Village Voice: “People who turn to bondsmen are often overcharged, and are the victims of deceptive practices. It’s common sense that this industry should be robustly regulated, but it is not,” said Peter Goldberg, the executive director of the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, during a press conference on City Hall’s steps this morning. “It is not uncommon for bail bondsmen to operate without state-required licenses, and they fail to comply with state-required reporting obligations. There’s a complete lack of transparency.”
Sign the Petition:
The Commercial Bail Bonds industry extracts more than $20 million dollars every year from predominantly low-income communities of color in New York City by preying on families when they are at their most vulnerable – when a loved one is trapped in the criminal justice system.
Banned globally in all countries except the U.S. and the Philippines, the industry is a booming, $14 billion a year business nationwide. Locally, regulations are so ineffective that bail bondsmen have been allowed to flout the law with impunity and regular people are paying the price.