American Bail Coalition Endorses Kalief’s Law Introduced in the New York General Assembly

American Bail Coalition Endorses Kalief’s Law Introduced in the New York General Assembly

LANCASTER, Pa. (JUNE 17, 2015) – The American Bail Coalition (ABC) today endorsed Kalief’s Law, named after Kalief Browder, a former juvenile criminal defendant housed at Rikers Island who committed suicide June 6, 2015.

The law would impose a more strict oversight on a defendant’s right to a timely trial. The bill ties the investigative progress of the prosecutor and evidence disclosure requirements to the calculation of speedy trial, prior to allowing exclusions to be applied.

ABC also supports criminal justice reforms that:

  • eliminate bail for juvenile defendants, a practice that has already been outlawed in several states; and,
  • provide the timely and responsible release of criminal defendants who are awaiting trial when there is a responsible third party who will guarantee that the juvenile will show up for trial and who will behave lawfully while awaiting trial.

“The recent tragic death in New York of Kalief Browder has raised important questions about the criminal justice system,” said Nicholas J. Wachinski, Esq., Executive Director, ABC. “Kalief’s Law has the support of the American Bail Coalition because it offers a correction to the system that addresses the fundamental right of a speedy trial.”

“Experts have noted that there is no better means than bail to ensure that a defendant, once released, will show up for trial,” Wachinski continued. “Abandoning the use of bail is not the solution. However, reasonable changes such as ensuring defendants receive a speedy trial will help protect against unfair practices including eliminating the use of bail for juvenile defendants.”

The State and City of New York currently use monetary bail for juvenile defendants and New York also houses juveniles in adult prisons, two issues that significantly impacted the Kalief Browder case.

“ABC will continue to work with decision-makers, lawmakers and all those involved in criminal justice and public safety to develop best practices that help to ensure public safety and minimize days between arrest and pretrial release of criminal defendants,” Wachinski said.
Kalief Browder’s tragic death, and the horrific and systematic abuse he suffered while incarcerated at Rikers, was the failure of the entire criminal justice system. Browder’s bail was revoked by a judge 73 days after he was imprisoned.

Contact: Madelyn Lawson, 202-420-9863

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