Forty-one-year-old Aitabdel Salem, a native of Algeria, spent five months on New York’s Rikers Island because, uhm, officials failed to tell him that bail was set at $2, reports The Washington Post.
Salem was arrested on Nov. 21, 2014, on charges of attacking the New York police officer who was detaining him for the theft of a coat from a Zara location. His bail was set at $25,000, which he could not afford. He ended up languishing “on Rikers Island from November 2014 to April 2015 although he could have walked out at any time,” writes the News:
Prosecutors weren’t able to get an indictment for the alleged police assault, though, and Salem’s release from that charge was ordered just a week later on Nov. 28.
He still faced charges for two minor offenses from allegedly tampering with a subway card machine in 2014, according toMashable, so he was required to post bail before leaving jail. Since the charges were so small, a judge dropped his bail to a dollar for each charge, totaling $2.
According to Salem, though, no one told him. Salem’s new attorneys, Glenn Hardy and Theodore Goldbergh, are placing the blame on his previous attorney.
Salem was released in April 2015, but was re-arrested for failing to appear at an arraignment for the original assault charge a few weeks later, on May 13, writes the New York Daily News. His lawyers claim the letter informing Salem of his court date was lost in the mail. His bail is now set at $30,000.
The news comes after “22-year-old Kalief Browder committed suicide after being held in Rikers for three years, from 2010 to 2013, without a trial on charges related to stealing a backpack,” the report notes.