The New York City Third World Holding System

A report on the bail system shows the Big Apple is a third world nightmare bureaucracy for anyone swept into its jails.

Mark Horne has written about a horrifying case of a youth spending years in Rikers Island without ever getting a trial. That story had a horrible ending since the victim committed suicide.

But while what happened to that kid might be an extreme instance, it nevertheless represents many tyrannies that people suffer at the hands of a broken system that seems to belong in a third world country. gives us a glimpse of the ugliness under the headline, “New York City’s bail system is a nightmare of big government bureaucracy.”

There are several issues mentioned, but just the description of the technology is disgusting:

Even the technology of the bail payment process is mind-bogglingly bad. You can’t pay online. You can only pay with a credit or debit card in one location, and only if you can afford an 8.95 percent fee added on top of the bail cost. Personal checks are not accepted. Cash, cashier’s checks, and money orders must be in the exact right amount or they are not accepted. And only one location is easily accessible for New Yorkers who (not unusually for the area) don’t own a car—but if the person you’re bailing out isn’t jailed at that same location, the information about your transaction will be faxed to and from the facility where they’re being held. Once bail does go through, it can take a week or longer for the release to actually occur, more than enough time to lose a job.

Remember, this is what people have to go through who have never been convicted of a crime. Their time and possibly their employment is taken away from them.

Is this corruption?

The exorbitant bail fees may be corrupt, but the truth is that much of this is disinterested neglect. People show up for their tax-fed jobs, do the minimum, and have no incentive to improve the situation. I don’t blame them. If you were forced to work in this job you would probably soon find that getting along with the system as it is would be the only way to keep the job.

If the system was motivated by a desire to shake people down for cash, it would spit them out of the system as soon as it got the bail money. Instead it takes so long to release people that it incurs unnecessary expense. Of course, no one really cares about the expense because the bill goes to the taxpayers.

I have no doubt that people who have committed real crimes are put in this system. But until they are tried and convicted, they are not supposed to be punished. Sadly, this is a situation where no one who has power or influence has to suffer under these conditions. Only “the riff raff” (whether guilty or innocent) have to put up with it. So no one bothers to change it.