August 01, 2018 Feature

Efficient Injustice: Too Much Pretrial Incarceration Damages the Integrity of Our Courts

By John Raphling

A Terrible Choice

Carlos Garcia1 spoke to his court-appointed lawyer through the bars of the lock-up adjacent to the courtroom where he would soon appear for his arraignment. He faced misdemeanor charges of “resisting, delaying or obstructing” a police officer.2 He described to his lawyer how the manager of the apartment building had given him permission to enter the meeting room to give his father a set of keys. He described how the Housing Authority police officer stopped him, told him the meeting was not open to the public, and demanded he leave. He said he tried to explain that he was just dropping off the keys and would then go away. He said they argued and a group of officers grabbed him, threw him on the ground, and piled on top of him, hurting his back and neck and bloodying his lip. They then cuffed, arrested, and took him to jail. He told the lawyer that a room full of people saw he had committed no crime.

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