“The Night Of” And Bail

HBO has another brilliant turn-of-the-screw on their hands. The name is “The Night Of,” and it stars Naz, the son of Pakistani immigrants played by Riz Ahmed (“Jason Bourne,” “Nightcrawler”) who wakes up after a one-night-stand to find the woman he bedded murdered. The show is a who-dun-it, but the elements that make it great are the blithe corruption of the criminal justice system and all the bureaucrats that make it tick.

“The Night Of”

Of great value in the “The Night Of” is bail. It looms large throughout, as the DA and the judge agree that due to the severity of the crime and the immigrant nature of Naz, that they should deny him. This leads to the main character coming face-to-face with the politics of Riker’s Island, a sprawling concrete complex that houses some 10,000 prisoners per day and sits in New York’s East River. Seemingly, exposed to the shifting loyalties and hidden agenda’s of each person he interacts with, he becomes hardened. But does the denial of bail to someone like Naz have precedence? Absolutely.

What “Night Of” Says About Bail

In New York, bail is discretionary in all felony cases. This is very different from a city like Chicago, which denies bail in all capital crimes. The effects are wide ranging. The New York City DA is then compelled to find any reason to secure a denial of bail. In “The Night Of,” Naz’s ethnicity was used to deny him despite two key factors. He’s an American citizen, born in America. He’s never been to Pakistan so who would he run to? In the eyes of New York that didn’t matter. What occurred after his denial was spurious. He was routinely attacked and found himself committing crimes in prison. All of that could have been avoided. But it also serves as proof that bail is the life-blood of the accused. Without it, you’re left to navigate a dangerous system built on limiting your freedom base on your economic viability.