Council Member Rory Lancman debated Assistant District Attorney James Quinn on the future of Rikers Island Wednesday. // Eagle photo by David Brand 

Lancman, Legal Aid Condemn ADA’s Browder Comments

In the days since Council Member Rory Lancman and Queens Senior Executive Assistant District Attorney James Quinn debated about the future of Rikers Island, one specific exchange about Kalief Browder has garnered national attention.

While defending the proposal to close jails on Rikers Island and open four “borough-based” jails, Lancman — a potential candidate in the 2019 Queens DA race — frequently described how the bail system keeps low-income defendants in detention simply because they cannot afford to the pay bail.

He cited the experience of Browder, a 16-year-old from the Bronx who was arrested for stealing a backpack and held on Rikers for three years — including two in solitary confinement — because he could not afford to pay bail. Ultimately, Browder’s C Felony charges were dismissed.

Two years after his release, Browder committed suicide.

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Queens County Criminal Court. Eagle photo by Andy Katz.

Criminal Justice Reform Advocates Hail New DA Watchdog Law

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s eleventh hour decision to sign a law creating the nation’s first prosecutorial misconduct commission has received mixed responses from the Queens legal community and borough lawmakers. The law, which passed both chambers of the state legislature earlier this year, will create an 11-person panel to oversee misconduct committed by prosecutors. That panel would consist of appointees made by the governor, legislature and the Chief Judge of the State Court of Appeals, a seat currently held by Hon. Janet DiFiore.

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