For the more than 250,000 people who are arrested each year in New York City, phone calls to lawyers and loved ones can mean the difference between freedom and jail, says the New York Times. A 24-hour hotline started in the Bronx last fall offers one easy-to-remember number, 1-833-3-GOODCALL, for people who are arrested. It is similar to one operating in Chicago. The hotline workers can connect a caller with lawyers from the Bronx Defenders and the Legal Aid Society and can notify relatives. Good Call is available citywide, but the public defenders it uses are available only in the Bronx.
People who are arrested in the city are entitled to three phone calls, but that is of little use to those who cannot remember a phone number, Aramis Guzman, the community director of Good Call, said. “We’re the first person that we want you to call in the event that you are arrested,” he said. “You don’t want to be playing Russian roulette with that last phone call you get.” Bail forces thousands of people to fight their cases from inside jails because they cannot pay. Forty-two percent of the 43,227 cases in which judges set bail last year involved defendants who could not afford bail and were jailed until their cases were resolved.