In the second in a series on the realities of bail releases in the U.S., National Public Radio tells the story of a New York City man who is charged with everal misdemeanors. He has been granted bail if he can post a $1,000 cash deposit. A bondsman has offered to post the money for him, for a $400 nonrefundable fee. The man doesn’t have $1,000. He doesn’t have $400. He doesn’t have 44 cents to mail a letter to his mother asking for bail money.
Like hundreds of thousands of inmates nationwide, the man is left with two options: He can fight his case – but he’ll have to do it behind bars – or he can plead guilty and take the 60-day sentence prosecutors are offering him and go home. The problem is that he believes he’s not guilty. “It’s not a choice,” he says, “because if you don’t have money, you have to stay here. It’s ruining your life either way you put it. Either way, you have to be here.”