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An $18 million plan unveiled this week will allow thousands of New Yorkers accused of low-level and non-violent offenses to skip bail in replacement for therapy and other supervision options while they wait for trial, the NY Daily News reports.

Officials in New York, who detailed the plan to the Associated Press before its announcement Wednesday, said it will be implemented in hopes of keeping low-level offenders out of the Rikers Island jail complex — a jail that in recent years has been embroiled in controversy for housing low-level offenders for extended amounts of time.

The plan, which will also combat the criticism that bail pigeonholes those affected by poverty, will give said communities better options that will in turn aid in prison reform. The plan will allow judges to replace a cash bail for other options, including behavioral or drug therapy, daily check-ins, and even text-message reminders that ensure suspects show up to their court dates, the News writes.

The calls for reform came amid a number of reports of non-violent or low-level offenders who were placed at Rikers for years, either unable to pay their bail or not given one at all. In one case, Kalief Browder, who at the time was 16-years-old, was unable to make a $3,000 bail for allegedly stealing a backpack. Browder was imprisoned for three years at the complex, much of which was spent enduring abuse from inmates and guards. The charges were later dropped.

Browder committed suicide last month at the age of 22.

“I think the basic principle is that Kalief Browder and other cases have begun to signify this (need for reform) in the public eye,” said Elizabeth Glazer, the mayor’s criminal justice coordinator told the Associated Press. “We want to focus on risk to be the determining factor to decide if someone will be in or out; and it has to be risk, not money.”

The millions of dollars allotted for funding will allow as many as 3,000 defendants to partake in the program.



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