“Kalief Browder, a 16-year-old New Yorker, was arrested on charges of stealing a backpack in 2010. To ensure he would show up for trial, and because of a previous offense, the judge set bail at $3,000. But his family could not afford to pay. So Mr. Browder was sent to jail on Rikers Island to await his day in court. He spent the next three years there before the charges were dismissed. Haunted by his experience, Mr. Browder hanged himself in 2015.
Our justice system was designed with a promise: to treat all people equally. Yet that doesn’t happen for many of the 450,000 Americans who sit in jail today awaiting trial because they cannot afford to pay bail.
Whether someone stays in jail or not is far too often determined by wealth or social connections, even though just a few days behind bars can cost people their job, home, custody of their children — or their life.”
Yes, and here is an excellent comment I support:
Geri Padilla Huntington Beach, CA 1 hour ago
It is heartening to read about a bipartisan bill that addresses the inequities of the current bail system. Thank you to Kamala Harris and Rand Paul for their efforts on behalf of the poor who can’t afford bail, not to mention the exorbitant cost of maintaining so many awaiting trial.
Reply 30 Recommended
“In New Jersey, voters and lawmakers gave judges more power to release low-risk defendants who can’t afford bail, letting them go home rather than sit in jail while they await trial. In Idaho, a new law created 24-hour crisis centers to help keep people with mental health issues from being locked up unnecessarily. Georgia and Louisiana established courts for military veterans accused of crimes. Hawaii funded programs to help reunify children with parents who are behind bars.
These are just a few of the hundreds of criminal-justice reforms that states around the country have put in place over the last two years, according to a new report by the Vera Institute of Justice.”
Source: States Lead the Way on Justice Reform – The New York Times
“Gov. Andrew Cuomo has strengthened the state office that investigates misconduct by prison guards, and also proposed legislation that would make it easier to dismiss corrections officers who commit crimes on the job.These are good first steps toward rooting out the culture of violence that has long dominated the prison system. The next task is to renegotiate a recently expired union contract that has shielded brutal or unqualified guards from accountability in any number of ways.As The Times and the Marshall Project reported jointly in April, the correction department’s internal affairs unit — which is responsible for investigating misconduct — has historically been weak and ineffective, partly because it relied too heavily on career corrections officers who lacked investigative experience and were also wary of offending fellow officers.”
Source: How to Get Brutal Guards Out of the Jails – The New York Times
“Any serious effort to repair criminal justice in New York City must do something about Rikers Island, the jail complex in the East River where justice goes to die, or at least be severely beaten.The City Council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, acknowledged this in her State of the City address this month, when she announced that the state’s former chief judge, Jonathan Lippman, would lead a commission to comprehensively examine the city’s criminal justice system. Its mission will be to reduce the jail population, now at about 10,000, enough to make it possible to consider shutting Rikers down for good.”
Source: Imagining a Rikers Island With No Jail – The New York Times
Maybe Rikers should be closed, because of the transportation problem, or the reduction of inmates in the system. But the problems of brutality and corruption in the system still need to be addressed. In a better world, we would ban prison guard and police unions. People with so much power over prisoners and the public should not be able to hide bad behavior behind curtains of union protection, which is a disgrace to unionism and the nation. And, the National Guard or the military should take over Riker’s Island immediately, with all the guards there eventually fired, laid off or prosecuted, after an intense study of who the real bullies and torturers wearing a uniform are. Union leaders who protected criminal behavior should also be prosecuted.
“States are finally backing away from the draconian sentencing policies that swept the country at the end of the last century, driving up prison costs and sending too many people to jail for too long, often for nonviolent offenses. Many are now trying to turn around the prison juggernaut by steering drug addicts into treatment instead of jail and retooling parole systems that once sent people back to prison for technical violations.But the most effective way to keep people out of prison once they leave is to give them jobs skills that make them marketable employees. That, in turn, means restarting prison education programs that were shuttered beginning in the 1990s, when federal and state legislators cut funding to show how tough they were on crime.”
Source: A College Education for Prisoners – The New York Times
“President Obama sent a powerful message last week when he barred federal prisons from holding juveniles in solitary confinement and ordered the Bureau of Prisons to undertake sweeping changes in how solitary is used throughout the federal system.By taking a new course at the federal level, Mr. Obama hopes to accelerate changes that are already underway in many state and local corrections systems.Solitary confinement, which is often used arbitrarily and to punish minor rule infractions, is a form of torture. It is psychologically damaging even to healthy people and increases the likelihood of suicide among the young and the mentally ill.”
Source: President Obama Speaks Out on Solitary – The New York Times