The New York Times: Setting Bail and Assessing Risk to Public Society
MONDAY, APRIL 03, 2017

Tina Luongo, Attorney-in-Charge of the Criminal Practice at The Legal Aid Society, writes in The New York Times that courts should not consider dangerousness when setting bail because it’s textbook conjecture, and historically discriminates against minorities and the low-income.

The New York Times
Setting Bail and Assessing Risk to Public Society
By Tina Luongo
April 3, 2017

To the Editor:

“Released Man’s Murder Charge Stokes a Bail Debate” (news article, March 22) fails to thoroughly incorporate the reasons public defenders have fought for decades against bail policies that take into consideration a person’s possible danger to the public.

A bail system that attempts to predict a person’s risk of future dangerousness asks the state to engage in guesswork that has historically discriminated against communities of color and poor people. It can also impede due process and presents a host of Equal Protection Clause concerns.

New York already struggles with pre-trial incarceration issues at correction facilities around the city, including widespread violence and capacity problems. The reform of the 1970s was a solid starting point, and we should build on that progress, not revert to a system that leaves unsolved issues of prison overpopulation and one that marginalizes New Yorkers because of their skin color or economic status.


The writer is attorney-in-charge of the criminal practice at the Legal Aid Society.


This letter appeared in The New York Times.