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Bail Reform: NYC Public Advocate Holds Rally To Dispel Myths About New Law

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Supporters of the state's new bail reform law gathered Tuesday to address what they call misinformation about the policy.

New York's revamped legislation has been in effect for a week now, but the controversial policy has its fair share of critics, CBSN New York's Nick Caloway reported.

So, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams held a rally to promote bail reform and dispel what he calls misinformation about the issue.

Web Extra: Public Advocate, Brother Of Kalief Browder Talk Bail Reform:

Williams was joined by Akeem Browder, the brother of Kalief Browder, who spent three years in jail on a minor theft charge and eventually killed himself.

"I'm proud that his story changed a lot of lives. I'm proud that my brother's story actually touched the heart of a lot of elected officials, but we have to keep on going," Akeem Browder said.

Kalief Browder sat in a Rikers Island cell -- mostly in solitary confinement -- accused of stealing a backpack when he was 16. His family couldn't afford bail. Eventually, the charges were dropped, but Kalief took his own life two years after his release.

"I speak for my brother and those that have been through the injustice system," Akeem Browder said. "It was inevitably a death sentence."

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Bail reform allows those accused of misdemeanors and what some call "non-violent felonies" to be released from jail without bail while awaiting trial.

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Critics say the policy allows hardened criminals to be set free, and some lawmakers, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, have said the law needs to be adjusted again.

On Tuesday, the public advocate asked lawmakers not to cave to fear mongering.

"How dare you continue to risk the brown and black bodies of people simply to cater to people who are afraid. This is a time of leadership. This is a time of unity," Williams said.

The bail reform rally was intentionally held just steps from the courthouse where Harvey Weinstein is facing trial for rape, Caloway reported.

Williams said the fact that a celebrity like Weinstein can make bail on rape charges, but someone like Kalief Browder can languish away in jail on theft charges highlights the importance of bail reform.

If some of the new state law is changed, it won't be a first. In 2017, New Jersey updated its new bail law, and last year Alaska did the same.

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