18-year-old released from New York’s Rikers Island prison after more than a year without trial – World Socialist Web Site

Image: http://www.thisisyourconscience.com

What’s that? You say if I haven’t done anything wrong, then I have absolutely nothing to fear from the police (stormtroopers) and the rest of the American ‘justice’ system?

Well guess again, Mr and Ms dumbed-down and whipped members of the herd:

18-year-old released from New York’s Rikers Island prison after more than a year without trial

By Katy Kinner
1 August 2017

Last Thursday, 18-year-old Pedro Hernandez was released from New York’s Rikers Island prison, where he had been held for 13 months awaiting trial for a crime he did not commit.

The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization posted Hernandez’s $100,000 bail just in time for the teenager to receive the full academic scholarship he earned from the Posse Foundation while in prison by completing his high school course work with honors at East River Academy, a school in the juvenile section of Rikers. Had he been released just one month later the scholarship would have been void.

Hernandez was arrested last July for his alleged connection with a shooting outside a Bronx bodega in 2015. The victim, who was shot in the leg, told authorities he was not sure who shot him, and eight witnesses came forward to say that Hernandez had nothing to do with the crime. A private investigator hired by Hernandez’s mother said he had video evidence that Pedro was home in his mother’s house at the time of the incident.

Nevertheless, charged with criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of a firearm, assault and reckless endangerment, and unable to post the initial $255,000 bail, Hernandez was sent to Rikers to await his trial.

As a result of institutional callousness and bureaucratic delays at Bronx Criminal Court, where recent budget cuts have prolonged the already long trial process, Hernandez waited 13 months and never received a trial. Hernandez refused several plea deals, vehemently maintaining his innocence.

Hernandez was arrested by Detective David Terrell, an officer with a reputation for harassing Bronx teenagers. In November 2016, three months after the Hernandez arrest, Terrell lost his badge and gun for playing craps in uniform with the friends of a man who was detained in the back of his squad car, allegedly accepting the challenge to gamble over the man’s arrest. Terrell is also involved in several lawsuits including a 2012 beating of a Bronx teenager and an alleged charge in 2014 for solicitation of sex from a mother in exchange for her son’s release from jail.

Hernandez’s case is reminiscent of that of the late Kalief Browder. Browder was accused of stealing a backpack when he was 16. He was imprisoned at Rikers, where he was tortured, beaten by guards, and starved in solitary confinement. While in prison Browder attempted suicide several times and like Hernandez, he refused frequent plea deals in order to preserve his innocence. After three years Browder’s chargers were dismissed, but Browder’s paranoia and depression remained, and two years after his release he hung himself from bed sheets in his bedroom.

Rikers Island, New York City’s main jail complex located in the East River between the boroughs of Queens and the Bronx, is composed of 10 jails, housing more than 12,000 inmates who are guarded by a corrections force of 9,000. Like Hernandez and Browder, a majority of inmates at Rikers have not been convicted of any crime and are forced to await trial in prison if they are unable to pay bail.

While New York State’s “speedy trial” law sets a target of 180 days for processing someone who has been accused of a crime, there are many ways for the limit to be stretched. Many processes such as court-scheduling delays, postponements for holidays or employee vacations pause the clock. Last year at Bronx Criminal Court, the median length of cases was 517 days from arrest to trial sentence…

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Source: 18-year-old released from New York’s Rikers Island prison after more than a year without trial – World Socialist Web Site

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