The New York State Assembly has passed “Kalief’s Law” in an effort to regulate the right to a speedy trial and ensure that people aren’t held in pretrial detention for longer than necessary, according to the Amsterdam News.
The measure, passed in early June, is named for Kalief Browder, a Black man who was arrested as a teen in 2010 on charges of stealing a backpack. He spent 1,000 days in Rikers Island and 700 days in solitary confinement while awaiting trial. His case was eventually dismissed.
The bill is slated to be introduced to the Senate and if passed, it will be signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
From the News:
“For too long, the constitutionally guaranteed right to a speedy trial has been denied in New York. Our broken Rockefeller-era law does nothing to guarantee to a speedy trial for the accused,” said New York State Senator Daniel Squadron, who cosponsored the bill with Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry. “In fact, it does the exact opposite, protecting a system that too often delays justice at the cost of defendants, victims and the taxpayers.”
After his release, Browder became a voice for criminal justice reform, speaking out about the torture he endured at Rikers. In 2015, he took his life after a storied battle with depression, spurred from his time in jail.
The Sixth Amendment guarantees that everyone has the right to a fair and speedy trial. But lawyers who manipulate loopholes, coupled with a massive backlog of cases, can leave prisoners wilting in jail for years before they are tried.
Activists who called for the bill are hopeful the state has taken action.
“It’s clear that New York’s criminal justice system is broken,” Gabriel Sayegh, the co-founder and co-director of Katal Center for Health, Equity and Justice, said to Amsterdam News. “This important legislation, sponsored by longtime reform champion Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry and passed by the Assembly under Speaker Heastie’s leadership, is a huge step in the right direction. It will fix a glaring problem in New York’s trial process, making it more fair and just, while saving taxpayers money by reducing unnecessary pretrial detention periods.”
SOURCES: New York Amsterdam News | PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter, Getty