At Empire Bail Bonds in Brooklyn, there is plenty of time for lunch. By 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, they have not had to bail anyone out of jail.
"None," said co-owner Wendy Fordim Saler. "We had an arraignment this afternoon for an attempted murder and they were released on their own recognizance, which never would have happened prior to this."
Saler says before bail reform took effect January 1, this office would put up the money to bail out at least a dozen people a day.
"Phones would be ringing constantly," Saler said.
But since cash bail ended for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, business has dried up.
"It has been devastating," she said. "As you can hear, the phones aren't even ringing."
The family business started in Nassau County more than 25 years ago and expanded to six locations in and near the city.
Reformers have long maintained that bail creates a two-tiered justice system, keeping some people locked up for minor crimes simply because they are poor.
With cash bail now largely eliminated, Empire Bail Bonds is consolidating, closing two locations and downsizing. Saler says she's already laid off 20 people.
"There are more than 212 licensed bail agents in the state of New York, and we estimate that of that 212, likely 50 percent or greater will be severely affected by this legislation," said Michelle Esquenazi, founder of the New York State Bail Bondsman Association and co-owner of Empire Bail Bonds.
Early this week, amid criticism the state went too far, Governor Andrew Cuomo called bail reform a "work in progress." That had Saler monitoring Cuomo's State of the State speech for signs Albany might roll back some of the reforms.
"I'm praying that something changes because someone like [employee] Anthony, who has been with me for 25 years, will no longer have a job at the end of the month," Saler said.
She wants discretion restored to judges to set bail on a case-by-case basis. She says that would address concerns critics have about public safety. It would also restore some business to the bail bondsmen. Without that, Saley says her Brooklyn office will be the next to shutter by the end of the month.