The term “bail” is commonly used to describe a cash amount that has been set by a judge, to make sure that a person charged with a crime, called a “defendant,” will
come back to court. This amount must be paid before a person will be released from jail. Generally, the defendant will be given the option of either paying cash, or paying a
bail bondsman to put up the funds, called a “bond.” More on this below.

Fact Sheet – About Bail in New York

New Yorkers value justice, fairness, and equal opportunity. But our broken justice system is undermining these values. There are over 25,000 people detained in local jails across New York State on any given day; nearly 70% are being detained pretrial. This means they have not been convicted—they have only been charged with a crime, are presumed innocent, and are awaiting their day in court. Most are detained in jail pretrial simply because they cannot afford to pay cash bail. No one should be held in jail simply because they cannot afford to buy their freedom.

Fact Sheet – It’s Time for Bail Reform in New York

Harm Reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing the harms associated with both the use of psychoactive drugs as well as ineffective drug policies. Harm Reduction is built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who are marginalized, including those who use drugs.

Fact Sheet – What is Harm Reduction?

As municipalities across the U.S. struggle to address the public health and safety challenges associated with drug use and fatal overdoses, innovative and effective collaborative approaches are necessary. New York State is leading the way by implementing new models called “Drug User Health Hubs.” This fact sheet provides basic information about these programs and discusses how they provide models for effective municipal public health and public safety partnerships.

Fact Sheet – Drug User Health Hubs

In the summer of 2015, Katal partnered with JustLeadershipUSA and together founded, built, and directed the #CLOSErikers campaign. In the spring of 2017, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio finally agreed to shutter the notorious jail facility. In the wake of the mayor’s announcement, the political circumstances evolved; dozens of reform steps need to be taken at the city and state level to achieve closure. Toward that end, in the summer of 2017, Katal stepped down from our formal leadership role in the more narrowly defined #CLOSErikers Campaign, and concluded our partnership with JLUSA.

We pivoted to focus on the numerous city and state reforms necessary to close Rikers, transform the criminal justice system as a whole, and redefine safety and justice in New York. This includes building community-based pre-arrest diversion programs in various cities, coordinating a statewide network for bail reform (#BailReformNY), pursuing speedy trial reform (#SpeedyTrialNow), and zeroing in on parole and probation reforms to reduce detention and supervision periods.

The summary covers the period of Katal’s co-founding and co-leadership of the campaign, from August 2015 to August 2017, and includes how the campaign got built, what worked well, and reflections on what could have worked better. Our hope is that this summary serves movements in New York City and beyond in the fight to end mass incarceration and build communities.

View the summary