Despite promises it would be completed this spring, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s online bail payment system has been pushed back to 2018.
City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) expressed outrage over the delay after the new April 2018 deadline was announced last week by Elizabeth Glazer, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, at a Fire and Criminal Justice committee hearing. Lancman said this marks the third time the city has failed to meet its own deadline for an online payment system.
The councilman said the city first announced plans for the online bail payment system in November 2016 and said it would be available systemwide by spring 2017. By June the online bail payment system still had not launched and the administration said “we expect that the contract will be signed shortly and that online bail payments will be live in the coming months.”
A few months later in October 2017 the payment system still had not taken effect and the Wall Street Journal reported the mayor’s office was predicting it would be introduced by year’s end.
Finally this week Glazer announced a new 2018 deadline.
Lancman said the delays affect people struggling to get out of jail and is adding to the growing incarceration problem in New York City.
“It is a profound disappointment that the de Blasio administration has once again failed to meet its own deadline to have the online bail payment system up and running,” he said. “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.”
According to Ben Sarle, a spokesman for the mayor, the city is firing on all cylinders to reduce the number of people in jail. Sarle said the delay was caused in part by efforts to make the system more effective and available to everyone. He also pointed out that de Blasio’s actions have resulted in a historically low jail population and the number of people detained on bail of $2,000 or less has fallen by 36 percent since 2013.
“The online bail project required the city to modernize an antiquated system that suffered through lengthy periods of under-investment by prior administrations, and some aspects of the procurement process took longer than expected,” he said. “We will have kiosks in all the boroughs, which will allow people who don’t have access to the Internet at home, to simply go to a kiosk to post bail immediately and not have to take off a day of work to do so.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart
©2017 Community News Group
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