Let us not pretend that this kidnapping scheme gone awry was somehow moral, or tolerable, just because it was lawful. Let us not accept the notion that our laws are simply sanctification—an expensive tuxedo for base criminality. And let us not pretend that Browder’s death was imposed on us from above. We are living in the America, in the New York, that we wanted. This must be accepted. If we are not responsible for what happened to Kalief Browder, for the ransoming of children, then we are not responsible for ensuring that it never happens again.

Ta-Nehisi Coates. I think the most important thing we can see about what happened to Kalief Browder is that there was no abuse of the system involved. The system worked precisely as it was designed to work. Police, prosecutors, jailers, and judges acted in that case with exactly the freedom they have been granted in law, exactly the same indifference to fairness or justice or human costs.