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State Senate Passes Gianaris Bill That Limits Pre-Arraignment Detention to 24 Hours

Senator Michael Gianaris (Flickr)

July 23, 2020 By Allie Griffin

The State Senate passed a bill Wednesday that aims to make sure that people are not detained longer than 24 hours if they have not been charged.

State Sen. Mike Gianaris introduced the bill after seeing protesters at Black Lives Matter rallies being held for extended periods without being charged.

The protesters were being held for more than a day since a New York City judge suspended habeas corpus — a long-cherished requirement that defendants be arraigned within 24 hours of their arrest.

The NYPD had asked for the suspension due to the high number of arrests made during protests following the police killing of George Floyd.

The bill would block judges from making the same “blanket exception” to the rule. If an exception is needed, it would have to be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Gianaris, who is also a graduate of Harvard Law School, said the legislation codifies the habeas corpus right that is already in place.

He blasted the judge’s recent decision to suspend habeas corpus, calling it “one of the most egregious violations of civil liberties.”

“That is a front to our very basic constitutional principles of habeas corpus, that someone should not be detained and lose their freedom without even being accused of a crime,” he said from the Senate floor.

The bill also requires cities with a population of one million or more to create and maintain a registry of detained people to allow public defenders to locate them.

Gianaris worked with the New York Legal Aid Society to draft the legislation.

The bill will move onto the State Assembly next, where it is sponsored by Assemblymember Diana Richardson.

The Assemblymember herself was pepper-sprayed by police officers during a protest in Brooklyn following the death of George Floyd.

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