Getting arrested is never good. And getting arrested in New York City, where cops are known for stop-and-frisk searches of dubious legality and for planting cocaine on innocent bar-goers just so they can make their arrest quotas, it can be an especially bum rap. But if you’re going to get arrested in New York City, you really, really don’t want to do it in the Bronx.
The New York Daily News today reports that the legal system in the Bronx is so back-logged with cases awaiting trial that arrestees can sit in prisons for over five years before ever going to trial. “This doesn’t happen anywhere else in the state,” says defense attorney Harvey Slovis. “It’s especially troubling because some of the people sitting in jail are innocent.”
One of those people is 28-year old Carl Hanley, who was just acquitted in a case involving an illegal firearm after sitting in Riker’s Island without a trial for 2-and-a-half years. “They let you rot in there because so many people have cases older than yours,” said Hanely.
The News reports that many people are “rotting” far longer than Hanely: “The average time to resolve a homicide case by trial in the Bronx has risen dramatically. In 2008, it was 733 days. Last year it was 988 days.”
And it’s not because the area has disproportionately higher crime rates. According to the News, the delays have increased severely since a move in 2004 to merge the Bronx Criminal Court with the Bronx Supreme Court, which rendered joint operation understaffed to handle the cases.
You always want to avoid getting arrested—it’s just a bad look — but bottom line: whatever the cost, you should avoid getting arrested north of 225th street.