THE BRONX - Local advocates are pushing for legislation that would require prosecutors to quickly turn over information in a criminal case.
The call for change comes after the recent suicide of 22-year-old Kalief Browder, who spent three years at Riker's Island waiting for a trial after he was accused of stealing a backpack.
Browder's alleged physical abuse by correctional officers and other inmates was captured on surveillance video.
His case was later dismissed by the Bronx District Attorney's Office. Browder later committed suicide.
Bronx Councilman Andy King is now calling for change in the state's justice system and how information is released in criminal cases.
His proposed legislation would require open and early discovery. Discovery is the process in which a defense lawyer finds what evidence a prosecutor has against their client.
"Because you are not financially able to get yourself out of situation, you sit in jail awaiting for the D.A. to figure out what to do with the case," he says.
Paul Prestia, the lawyer for Browder's family, has filed a lawsuit for civil rights violations and is seeking damages.
Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson calls the actions to amend the state's discovery laws misguided, saying in a statement "While we do agree that earlier discovery could assist in making decisions about whether or not to plead, that alone cannot be the criteria. We must carefully balance that with the need to protect witnesses."
Councilman King says that the state Assembly has already given his legislation the green light, but the Senate is dragging its feet in passing it.