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(Crain’s) — New York City could save tens of millions of dollars a year if it did not incarcerate thousands of defendants charged with minor crimes — like hopping a turnstile, smoking marijuana in public or trespassing — before their trials, according to a new report by advocacy group Human Rights Watch.  In 2008 alone, the city could have kept $42 million in its coffers, had it not locked up 16,649 non-felony defendants who were unable to post bail of $1,000 or less, according to the report. Among defendants arrested that year on misdemeanor charges with bail set at $1,000 or less, 87% were incarcerated because they could not afford the bail, the report said. The average stay in detention was 15.7 days.

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