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Alternative Procedures Against Returns to Court

What was Kalief arrested for and how old was he?

Kalief Browder was arrested in the Bronx for supposedly stealing a backpack. During that time, Kalief was sixteen years old, and the arrest resulted in him being jailed at Rikers Island (“Kalief Browder, in His Own Words”). However, it is important to note that the fact of the robbery was not proved for this teenager. Still, after being arrested at that young age, Kalief had to spend three years in jail because of weaknesses in the criminal justice system.

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What was Kalief convicted of (this is not meant to be a trick question)?

Kalief was never convicted of the discussed crime despite spending three years in prison. Instead, he was just arrested and accused of the theft of a knapsack without much evidence to support the case (“Kalief Browder, in His Own Words”). Also, it is possible to state that two of those three years in jail were spent by Kalief in solitary confinement for young prisoners.

What was Kalief’s experience while in solitary?

The time spent in solitary confinement was stressful and full of pressures for Kalief. There was always a risk of being sent to a separate twelve-by-seven cell for fighting or conflicts with other inmates. It was psychologically difficult for Kalief to spend time in a separate cell while being in isolation because of violence against him (“Kalief Browder, in His Own Words”). Thus, Kalief spent his time reading and focusing on self-study to become prepared for educational tests. One more challenge of being imprisoned was associated with the constant feeling of hunger reported by Kalief.

What is Ellis’ story?

When Eddie Ellis was fifteen years old, he was arrested because of allegedly participating in the armed robbery, and he was sent to jail. In prison, the young person had to spend much time in solitary confinement. To feel better in isolation, Ellis tried to do exercising or working out. Still, he felt sad, depressed, and experienced anxiety; furthermore, that period in solitary confinement also had long-lasting effects on the man’s life. Ellis stated that he felt depressed and suffered from a lack of energy even after leaving the prison for juveniles (Feierman and Lutz). Moreover, it took Ellis several years to cope with depression and anger associated with his experience in prison because solitary confinement had no positive outcomes for the young man.

What has the federal government done to prevent this and have the states done the same?

To prevent further usage of solitary confinement for adolescents, the federal government passed the First Step Act and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. According to the First Step Act, the use of solitary in federal facilities is not allowed when it is applied as a variant of punishment, and it can be used only in cases that are associated with the potential harm to an individual (Feierman and Lutz). If solitary confinement is applied, a young person should be released within three hours. However, it is important to note that this action works only for juveniles in federal custody, and states are only expected to adopt similar laws.

According to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, states must adopt the same laws and regulations at their levels, as well as report the cases of isolating the youth in prison to the federal government. Besides, states need to inform the government regarding the application of certain strategies to address the issue of solitary confinement (Feierman and Lutz). Thus, it is possible to state that the US states are on their path to prohibiting punishment based on using solitary for adolescents.

What does the article state about the effects of solitary confinement?

It is discussed in the article that solitary confinement can have significantly negative effects on adolescents because of the specifics of their psychological development. Thus, solitary confinement can lead to such destructive outcomes for the youth’s psychological state as the development of anger, frustration, sleeplessness, depression, anxiety, and hopelessness (Feierman and Lutz). This situation and experienced feelings can cause adolescents to harm themselves. The problem is that young people need social interaction as an important aspect of their developmental process, and isolation leads to dramatic effects on their psychological health.

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Has New York made better strides with its use of bail? Discuss the way NY is approaching bail and possible alternatives

According to the data presented in the article, New York is on its path to improving the use of bail, and it has demonstrated some positive results in this area in comparison to other states. The author of the article explains this tendency concerning a culture change that is observed among judges. Therefore, the change comes from the decisions that are made by judges regarding bail but not from certain state laws (Hager). It is possible to observe the situation in the state when judges prefer to use various alternatives to bail, such as a specific “supervised release” program, to achieve some social change.

How are they doing with defendants showing up for court (and what is their rate)?

In New York City, the percentage of court cases where bail was required has decreased significantly from 48% to 23% in recent years (Hager). Furthermore, the rate of defendants being released without providing any payment increased to 76% in comparison to 50% in the past. What is more important is that the discussed situation has also affected the rate of defendants showing up for court. Thus, despite not using bail in the majority of cases, the rate of defendants who were expected to show up for court has not decreased. Instead, the return-to-court rate can be described as rather high (86%) in comparison to the situation in other states (Hager). Therefore, it is possible to identify certain positive effects of this initiative on the overall practice of setting bail in courts.

What happened in the state of Maryland when they tried to eliminate bail for the poor?

In the state of Maryland, the elimination of bail for people with low income in 2017 resulted in increasing the frequency of imprisoning persons instead of providing them with bail or alternatives. As it is stated in the article, those defendants who could be offered bail in the past are 14.5% more likely to be sent by judges to jail today (Hager). As a result, the weakness of the approach to eliminating bail has been observed in Maryland. The problem is that the absence of bail for disadvantaged people can potentially lead to imprisoning more individuals according to judges’ decisions because they cannot set bail and do not choose other options for defendants.

How do you feel about putting those under the age of 18 in solitary confinement?

The use of solitary confinement for adolescents can be viewed as an extremely severe punishment measure because isolation in prison is perceived as the main approach to influencing and changing prisoners’ behaviors. Moreover, solitary confinement is selected as the punishment only for criminals convicted of severest crimes. The reason is that people experience difficulties while coping with the absence of interaction with other persons.

However, despite this aspect, young individuals are at risk of being sent to a separate cell for days and weeks even if they are not convicted of any crime. Therefore, this punishment measure is perceived as having extremely negative effects on a young individual and his or her ability to effectively socialize after imprisonment. From this perspective, the use of solitary confinement for juveniles cannot be seen as an appropriate measure that can impact their behavior and lead to positive changes associated with understanding their offense.

How do you feel about the use of bail and how it is applied?

Currently, the use of bail can be discussed as a discriminating procedure against disadvantaged people who cannot afford to pay the set sums of money, as it was in the case of Kalief Browder and his family. It is possible to agree with the idea that the use of bail by judges should be revised. However, it is also important to note that the revision or elimination of bail requires the effective replacement of this procedure by certain alternatives. The example of Maryland indicates that it is almost impossible to prohibit the use of bail for judges without providing them with options other than just sending people to jail.

In this context, one can agree with the development of alternative socially significant procedures for controlling the return-to-court situation. It is important to develop programs based on the idea of social assistance and supervision for persons who will need to return to court for the further hearing of their case. Furthermore, the application of programs similar to a “supervised release” program can potentially result in positive outcomes for defendants who will receive some support. Therefore, it is possible to state that the current use of bail needs to be revised with a focus on implementing updated procedures for controlling the return of defendants to courts.

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Works Cited

Feierman, Jessica, and Jenny Lutz. “Placing Juveniles in Solitary Confinement Doesn’t Fix Them. In Fact, It Makes Them Worse.The USA Today. 2019. Web.

Hager, Eli. “New York City’s Bail Success Story.The Marshall Project. 2019. Web.

Kalief Browder, in His Own Words.The New Yorker. 2016. Web.

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