In the past two months, New York City courts resolved 42 percent of 1,427 criminal cases involving defendants who had been at the Rikers Island jail complex for more than a year, the Wall Street Journal reports. The courts started an effort in April to reduce a backlog of pending cases that keeps thousands of people detained for months or years, often because they can't make bail, while they await trial or a resolution of their case. Some say the efforts won't do enough to address the delays and inequities they say plague the city's criminal justice system, including overburdened courts and lawyers, high bails and dismal conditions at Rikers.
The “Justice Reboot” initiative involved coordination between judges, City Hall officials, defense lawyers, and prosecutors. The court system designated administrative judges in each borough to process cases, focusing on inmates who had been at Rikers longest. Elizabeth Glazer, director of the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, lauded the progress but said “this is just a first step in making systemic changes” at Rikers. The problem with lengthy stays at Rikers was highlighted by the suicide of Kalief Browder, 22, who spent three years there on robbery charges that were eventually dismissed.