Metro- Queens man who spent five months in prison found out later that his bail had been set at $2 the whole time, but a missed court date resulted in that figure being raised.
Aitabdel Salem, 41, was put in Rikers Island after a Nov. 21, 2014, arrest for allegedly attacking an NYPD officer who was apprehending him in relation to a coat theft, the New York Daily News reported. Salem was unaware that prosecutors could not get an indictment related to the police assault, which carried a $25,000 bail, and he was ordered released on that charge one week later
Salem, though, still had dollar bails set on charges of tampering and mischief, bringing his total bail amount to $2, the Daily News added. Judges may set dollar bails if they believe a defendant’s existing bail on other charges is sufficient; this was apparently not revealed to Salem.
"[Salem] was shocked and dismayed and frustrated that his case was unconscionably mishandled and there was no communication by his attorney telling him his bail was $2, which he could have made at any moment," one of Salem’s new attorneys, Glenn Hardy, was quoted by the Daily Mail.
After Salem realized the fluke and made bail in April, 2015, he failed to be present for an arraignment in May of that year and was subsequently charged with bail jumping, the Daily News stated. His attorneys said Salem was unaware of the court date and presented a letter marked "return to sender" to show that he did not receive the information from the court.
Can I ask what I consider to be a pretty fair question? What the hell was this guy doing all day, every day that he couldn't carve out a few minutes in his daily itinerary to stay informed on the status of his bail and the length of his sentence? I get that there's not a digital display in his cell counting down the hours like a Bud Light clock as St. Patrick's Day approaches and there's sure as shit not a ticker that's fluidly rising and falling like it's the NASDAQ, but it can't be impossible to find out if things may have changed. I can't say I am familiar with the luxuries afforded to you in terms of attaining of information from your file when you're stuck on Riker's Island, but I'll be damned if this guy didn't have enough free time to find a way.
Obviously his representation could have been more thorough, but if I were him I would have been contacting my attorney like I was a high school chick calling my boyfriend while he was on family vacation. Just constantly begging him to check and recheck that golden dollar amount like it was the only item you bid on at a silent auction. Obviously it's far less convenient, but I compare it to looking at your watch when you already know what time it is or taking a gander at your bank account when you already know that your balance is low. I know you can't will your way out of maximum security prison, but there's no excuse for not trying. Besides working out, sitting around loathing yourself, and focusing on your soap holding technique there can't be all that much to do to entertain yourself for 5 months on Riker's Island. Might as well badger any and everyone in the know to find out if you are parkway toll away from becoming a free man - no matter how unlikely it is.