Three years after the death of his brother, Akeem Browder is pushing New York Gov. Cuomo to make good on a promise to enact reforms to end a cash bail system that takes advantage of non-violent offenders.
Browder plans to speak out at the Capitol today on the third anniversary of his brother Kalief Browder death by suicide after spending three years at the violent Riker’s Island prison awaiting trial for allegedly stealing a backpack.
Browder said Cuomo promised to initiate criminal justice reforms and just weeks before the legislative session ends later this month, he is urging lawmakers in both houses to get the ball rolling and sign a pledge to end cash bail “and reform New York’s unjust pretrial system.”
“I let him know I reserve the right to hold my nomination until I see what’s going to happen for our community; what the governor is going to do for Kalief,” Browder said.
“He started off this year with his announcement and it gave me a lot of encouragement to think this year we could get it done. We can still get it done. It’s just not with the governor’s help.”
Earlier this year when Cuomo promised Browder at the annual State of State address, that a criminal justice reform package would be on the agenda he said:
“Your brother did not die in vain,” Cuomo told Browder during the speech.
But that promise fell flat when the reforms weren’t included in the final budget in March.
What’s at stake is changing the cash bail for non-violent felonies and implement a more timely evidence discovery and speedy trial requirements.
Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said the setback was caused by the state Senate Republicans.
“We share in his anger and frustration at the lack of criminal justice reform, which is one of many critically important issues being blocked by the Senate Republicans,” Azzopardi said.
“This is why the Governor is doing everything in his power to flip the Senate and get these reforms passed once and for all.”
Cynthia Nixon, the Sex and the City actress vying for Cuomo’s gubernatorial seat, is siding with Browder tweeting #StandWithKalief.
Browder hasn’t said which candidate he would support in the governor’s race.
Kalief Browder killed himself in 2015, after spending three years on Rikers Island, where he awaited trial on charges that he stole a backpack when he was 16.