In Brooklyn, a night in jail often lasts longer than one night. Sometimes it can drag out over two or even three nights, reports the New York Times. Last month, the city’s criminal courts reduced weekend hours, shortening shifts in response to state budget cuts. Court officials promised to monitor the dockets “hour by hour and day by day” to ensure that prisoners were arraigned promptly.
The result has been what defense lawyers feared: People arrested may wait for days before appearing in front of a judge. State law requires that the authorities bring defendants before a judge “without unnecessary delay,” which the state's highest court has interpreted to mean 24 hours under normal conditions. Now, court officials have pledged to add more hours to weekend shifts to increase the number of arraignments in Brooklyn Criminal Court. “We recognize that it was certainly not acceptable to continue on the current path,” said David Bookstaver of state Office of Court Administration. John Feinblatt, the mayor’s criminal justice coordinator, agreed that, “People shouldn’t be spending two or three days in jail” waiting for a judge.