06 October 2014

At Least We Don't Live In New York

There are many problems with the criminal justice system in Colorado and our juvenile justice system, in particular, has flaws.

But, in Colorado, almost without exception we do not subject our sixteen year old juveniles arrested (arguably without probable cause) on suspicion of robbery to 33 months of pre-trial incarceration (including 800 days in solitary confinement) only to have the charges dismissed in a prison like Riker's Island where violent pre-trial assaults by guards and fellow inmates are commonplace.

This pretty much takes the joint efforts of bad cops, bad jail guards, bad prosecutors, bad defense attorneys, and bad judges.  It also takes the indifference of a poor family that in all of that time can't make a $3,000 bond payment (which would probably have required only $300 in cash plus a car as security) to get him out of jail pending trial.  I seriously doubt that a family that was really committed couldn't come up with those resources for three straight years. [Update: It turns out that bail was revoked in full due to his indictment for a felony which constituted a probation violation after about two and a half months by a grand jury. After that, bail was no longer available.]

The case also raises the serious question of whether it is really appropriate to use adult speedy trial standard for juveniles for who have shorter time horizons. As his attorneys' explained:
Kalief was deprived of his right to a fair and speedy trial, his education, and, I would even argue, his entire adolescence. If you took a sixteen-year-old kid and locked him in a room for twenty-three hours, your son or daughter, you’d be arrested for endangering the welfare of a child.
It isn't unreasonable to conclude that pre-trial incarceration for an adolescent is more burdensome than it is for an adult.

1 comment:

andrew said...

The boy in question committed suicide after being released in early 2015.