One of the most tragic things about the case of Kalief Browder, the young man who committed suicide after being released from Rikers, was how preventable it was. Browder was arrested at 16, allegedly for having stolen a backpack, and waited there for a trial that took 3 years to throw out. One way to prevent tragedies like this to stop arresting black youth without reasonable suspicion. Another is to tighten the states’s “speedy trial” laws, so that kids like Browder don’t spend years of their life in prison awaiting trial. Yet another is to eliminate solitary confinement. And finally, another is to create reforms assist with the $3,000 bail that Browder was expected to pay.
The whole system is fucked, but Mayor Bill de Blasio specifically pledged to support bail reform in the wake of Browder’s death. Now, however, he’s stalling on a proposal by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito that proposed the city would cover bails of less than $2,000 for qualifying defendants.
But Mark-Viverito, the Observer reports, is determined to get $1.4 million budget allocated with or without his support. “If the administration is not open to it, we’re open to it, and that’s what matters here,” she said at Wednesday’s bail reform Council hearing. “We can get it done without the administration’s support.”
The Council Speaker said that, while the details would need to be worked out, the budget is already set up to enable this sort of reform:
“The state statute, since 2012, allows the city to set up these bail funds and we have two in existence, so we can work with the nonprofits, and you could work with other individuals and agencies that have organizations that have experience running this, and be able to implement it,” Ms. Mark-Viverito said. “We’re looking at multiple options. Ultimately, we are committed to making this happen and we will find a way to do that.”
Now that’s how to get things done in the government.
(Photo: Kids4Car Donation)