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New Yorkers May Be Held in Jail for Months Without Conviction

09.20.13 Andy Cush

Data analyzed by WNYC shows people accused of a felony in New York City are held in jail an average of 95 days before trial. It’s only natural that some of those accused will end up acquitted or with their cases dismissed–there were 15,000 such cases in 2010–meaning it’s possible for a person to sit in jail for weeks or even months without having been convicted of a crime, then let go. According to WNYC’s numbers, in 2010, “nearly 100 defendants spent more than a year in jail but were never convicted of a crime.”

This practice stretches the notion of a “speedy trial” to its breaking point, and it’s also not cheap for the city, which spends almost $170,000 per year on every inmate in the prison system.

““No policy maker, if you said to them, ‘You know, we have $150 million to spend on public safety in New York City, do you think we should spend it on keeping people who are pretrial detainees another 18 days in jail?’” said  Michael Jacobson, director of the CUNY Institute on State and Local Governance, of the problem. “No one would say, ‘Yeah that’s a good idea,’”