Before The Law
October 1, 2014 1:13 PM   Subscribe

In Before The Law, Jennifer Gonnerman, writing for The New Yorker, tells the story of Kalief Browder, who was unjustly accused of taking a backpack. He spent the next three years on Rikers Island before the charges were dismissed.
posted by ob1quixote (16 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
He spent the next three years on Rikers Island before the charges were dismissed.

That must've been one hell of a backpack.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:30 PM on October 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


Isn't this a double?

Oh shit, that was a different dude in NYC who spent years in jail before having the charges dismissed. Nevermind.
posted by el io at 1:37 PM on October 1, 2014 [25 favorites]


What a truly terrible thing to happen.

An aside, the title of this article is the title of a short story by Kafka. It is also worth a few minutes to read, although it has nothing really to do with Kalief's story. http://www.kafka-online.info/before-the-law.html
posted by I am Otis at 1:51 PM on October 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Awful. He is going to be haunted by demons for a long, long time. Are there organizations that provide good, free therapy resources to people like him?
posted by joan_holloway at 2:00 PM on October 1, 2014


Isn't this a double?

Oh shit, that was a different dude in NYC who spent years in jail before having the charges dismissed. Nevermind.
posted by el io at 4:37 PM on October 1 [3 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


This is the most depressing thing I've read today.
posted by Fizz at 2:04 PM on October 1, 2014 [5 favorites]


Awful. He is going to be haunted by demons for a long, long time. Are there organizations that provide good, free therapy resources to people like him?

Unfortunately, there are barely resources for the ex-cons who were actually convicted of something.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:53 PM on October 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


That is fucking horrifying and I hope he sues the shit out of the city.
posted by Slinga at 3:18 PM on October 1, 2014 [7 favorites]


What happened to the "right to a speedy trial?"

Is that avoided by just not charging a crime and indefinite "holds" with a years later dismissal?
posted by CrowGoat at 4:46 PM on October 1, 2014


Is that avoided by just not charging a crime and indefinite "holds" with a years later dismissal?

It's in the article. Only the delay requested is counted against the six month limit for a "speedy trial" under NY law. The weeks between the one day of delay requested and the new hearing date it purely incidental and not counted from the law's perspective.
posted by Talez at 4:51 PM on October 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


Truly unconscionable.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:35 PM on October 1, 2014


although it has nothing really to do with Kalief's story.


hmm, I thought it was pretty apt
posted by Bwithh at 6:59 PM on October 1, 2014


That is fucking horrifying and I hope he sues the shit out of the city.

And when he gets his big payday, the parties responsible for putting him there have to pay up first.
posted by zardoz at 7:41 PM on October 1, 2014


What happened to the "right to a speedy trial?"

This is detailed, extensively, in the article. In fact, that's what the piece seems to be about, more than Kalief Browder's guilt or innocence.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:26 AM on October 2, 2014


A criminal Justice system that produces this outcome should just be destroyed.

One thing that gets me is the reason why he was put in jail pending trial at all was a previous crime which, regardless of innocence, was as a juvenile. It's manifestly clear that having a teenager in jail for any length of time makes it harder for them to adjust and mature in a non-criminal way. I also can't help but think if his family was not poor or at least not black, several of the steps in this process wouldn't have happened (possibly the initial arrest even - would most cops arrest solely on the testimony of a Mexican claiming a white middle class teenager did it .. a week earlier?)
posted by R343L at 6:44 AM on October 2, 2014


I have such great respect and admiration for him, for not taking a plea deal. I can't imagine the pressure he was under to "admit" guilt. And the moment you do that, the moment you're on the record as a criminal, society gives up on you. Society takes you as "getting your due", no matter what's done to you, no matter the process you're put through.

So good on him. This is a travesty, and an injustice affecting god knows how many. I can't imagine the horror he went through, and I can't imagine the courage it must have taken to stand by his innocence.
posted by meese at 7:08 AM on October 11, 2014


On March 13, 2013, Browder appeared before a new judge, Patricia M. DiMango, who had been transferred from Brooklyn as part of a larger effort to tackle the Bronx’s backlog. She was known for her no-nonsense style when dealing with defendants; at the Brooklyn courthouse, she was referred to as Judge Judy. (As it happens, this year she became a judge on “Hot Bench,” a new courtroom TV show created by Judge Judy.) In the Bronx, DiMango’s job was to review cases and clear them: by getting weak cases dismissed, extracting guilty pleas from defendants, or referring cases to trial in another courtroom. At the start of 2013, there were nine hundred and fifty-two felony cases in the Bronx, including Browder’s, that were more than two years old. In the next twelve months, DiMango disposed of a thousand cases, some as old as five years.
Jesus Christ. As bad as Browder's case was, imagine those guys stuck on Rikers for five whole years before even getting a sentence! Thanks for posting this, obi1quixote.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:05 PM on October 28, 2014


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