We collaborate with the New York County Defender Services (NYCDS), a public defender’s office in Manhattan and New York not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, to find candidates who cannot afford bail and who are eligible for funding. When NYCDS is assigned to represent a misdemeanor client who cannot afford bail, a NYCDS attorney contacts one of our student case managers, who reviews the applicant’s information with a supervisor who is a staff member of WSLS. If we determine that the applicant qualifies for our bail assistance, one of our student bail bondsmen posts bail at the Manhattan Detention Complex or at Rikers Island.
Our student case managers then follow up with the defendant to help ensure that he or she returns to each of his or her court appearances. If the defendant attends his or her court appearances, the bail money will be returned to WSLS even if the defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty. That money will be available to help the next eligible defendant in need. If the defendant does not attend his or her court appearances and forfeits bail, WSLS does not take action to recoup those funds. Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of defendants return to court. In 2015, The Bronx Freedom Fund (a charitable bail fund that works with Bronx residents who are represented by The Bronx Defenders, a public defender office in the Bronx) reported that 97 percent of the 300 individuals they have bailed out over the past two years returned to all scheduled court dates. See The Bronx Freedom Fund One Second Annual Report 2015.