In October 2014, New York City erupted in outrage at the story of Kalief Browder. Browder spent three years in confinement awaiting trial for stealing a backpack. Browder tragically committed suicide in 2015. He was held at Rikers because, like many of the City's most vulnerable residents, he could not post his $3,000 bail.
To have a fair and even playing field for all who face the criminal justice system, it is essential that indigent defendants have access to an effective lawyer at their bail hearings. The federal and state governments must recognize the critical importance of a lawyer's presence during the pretrial stage.