Kalief Browder spent more than 1,000 days in Rikers Island’s pretrial center due to accusations of backpack theft. He was never convicted in the case, which was dismissed by a judge, but freedom wasn’t enough to correct the damage beatings, 700 days in solitary confinement, and starvation did to his psyche. At the age of 22, Browder committed suicide due to his ongoing depression.
“It really is a depressing situation to think that a young man sat idle in Rikers for three years,” Speaker of the New York City Council Melissa Mark-Viverito said in a news conference following Browder’s death in June 2015.
“He came out a broken man, a broken young man, and our system created that reality. We can’t walk away from that. So, if this isn’t a call to action, I really don’t know what is…. This is not just a New York City issue. This is a federal issue. This is a national issue.”
In an attempt to reform New York’s speedy trial provision, the New York State Assembly passed Kalief’s Law last week according to reports.
“The bill’s passage in the Assembly by the overwhelming margin of 138-2 shows that our lawmakers are finally hearing the voices of the many organizations and thousands of activists who have been fighting for a more just criminal justice system,” Glenn Martin, president and founder of JustLeadership USA, said. “We call on the Senate to take up and pass S.5998-A [Kalief’s Law] as soon as possible and make the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution’s promise of a speedy trial a reality in New York.”
The bill is reportedly slated to be introduced to the Senate and will be signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo if passed.