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Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

 

Criminal justice reform

Criminal justice reform

  • cm reynoso press

    Council Member Reynoso, one of the co-authors (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    In recent history, New Yorkers have witnessed numerous instances of brutality and mistreatment at the hands of the police. Justice has not been delivered in many of these cases, and they all point to a glaring reality: a lack of transparency and accountability plagues the New York City Police Department.

    The public was vividly reminded of this just a few weeks ago when a ...

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    Jonathan Lippman, one of the authors (photo: John McCarten/NYC Council)


    The New York State Legislature recently passed a landmark suite of criminal justice reforms that will profoundly re-shape the justice system in New York. Among other things, the reforms should help recalibrate the balance of power between prosecutors and defense attorneys and accelerate the effort to close the notorious jail complex on Rikers Island.

    A recent analysis found that by reducing the use of bail, the legislative reforms would result in the release of more than 40% of the

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  • Corey Johnson criminal justice speech

    Speaker Corey Johnson (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    City Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced on Thursday a package of proposals aimed at reforming New York City’s criminal justice system to be more fair and equitable, building on changes championed by progressive politicians and advocates in New York and Albany over the last several years.

    Johnson presented a vision of criminal justice in New York based on refocusing the system away from incarceration and expanding the tools available to pursue his

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    Speaker Corey Johnson, one of the authors, with Mayor de Blasio (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    Three years ago, the idea of closing the nine jails on Rikers Island was widely considered impossible. But in April 2017, after an intense campaign by advocates and the findings of an independent commission convened by former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and chaired by Judge Jonathan Lippman, Mayor de Blasio committed to the goal.

    Today, we are within hailing distance.

    The starting point for closing the Rikers jails is

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  • flchirlanemccray island

    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Change swept through Albany as lawmakers passed a suite of reforms aimed at reducing the harms inflicted by the criminal justice system. These changes, which include significant limitations on the use of bail and incarceration, will go a long way towards making our justice system less biased and more responsive to the needs of low-income New Yorkers and, in particular, people of color.

    The next challenge that confronts us is how to move beyond simply avoiding harms and toward the

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  • bail sign via zellnor

    (photo: @zellnor4ny)


    At a Sunday press conference, following his overnight announcement of a $175.5 billion budget deal, Governor Andrew Cuomo heralded a criminal justice reform agreement with the Legislature, and thanked one member of the Assembly in

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  • Cuomo top aides new budget deal 2019 2020

    Cuomo and top aides announce budget deal (photo: Mike Groll/Governor's Office)


    Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders agreed on a $175.5 billion state budget for fiscal year 2020, which begins Monday, that includes several significant policy changes for New York, including a congestion pricing program for New York City, a plastic bag ban of sorts, major criminal justice reforms, and a commitment to enact through a new commission a campaign finance program that includes public matching funds.

    The deal,

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  • Cuomo state budget briefing

    Gov. Cuomo and top aides (photo: governor's office)


    The deadline for the state’s 2020 fiscal year budget is midnight on Sunday and state legislators are expected to work through the weekend as they negotiate a variety of thorny issues with Governor Andrew Cuomo, finalizing the details of policies that have been agreed to in principle, fighting over other issues that are less settled, and determining exactly how much to spend on what in the new fiscal year that begins Monday.

    Some of the budget bills are already public, with

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    Speaker Johnson, the author (photo: Jeff Reed/City Council)


    In New York, you can be locked up based on purported evidence that isn’t even disclosed to you, until a trial that can be postponed indefinitely, unless you are wealthy enough to pay your way out. That is the reality under our state’s antiquated laws governing cash bail, discovery, and speedy trial. With Democrats truly controlling both houses of the state Legislature and the governorship for the first time in decades, we now have a meaningful opportunity to

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    Gov. Cuomo on Long Island (photo: governor's office)


    Before Democrats reclaimed the state Senate last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo spent years triangulating with the Democratic-controlled Assembly, two factions of Senate Democrats, and the Republican Senate majority. The arrangement allowed him a heavy hand over the legislative and budget agendas in Albany and gave him the ability to claim credit and deflect blame as he saw fit (though critics didn’t always buy his explanations). Progressive legislation regularly withered on the vine

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  • city council justice preli budget

    District Attorneys (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    Advocates who are pushing to reform the criminal justice system by focusing on the powerful role that district attorneys play as enforcers of the law often cite Larry Krasner as a model. Krasner was elected the district attorney of Philadelphia in 2017 on a comprehensive reform platform and in November last year, just 11 months into his first term, he pulled out of the statewide Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association. Krasner blamed the association for holding back

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    Ben Max, left, of Gotham Gazette, and Jarrett Murphy, right, of City Limits


    March 13, 2019 - Max & Murphy Podcast: The Push for Criminal Justice Reform, with Tina Luongo of Legal Aid Society

    tina luongo 150With major criminal justice reforms being debated and negotiated in Albany, Tina Luongo of the Legal Aid Society joined the show to discuss the details of bail, speedy trial, and discovery reform

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    Queens Borough President Katz swears-in community board members (photo: @QueensBPKatz)


    Uncontested for seven terms spanning more than a quarter-century, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown has hung back while his counterparts in Brooklyn and Manhattan join a growing national conversation about criminal justice reform and the power of prosecutors to decarcerate jails. While the retiring Brown is a “dear friend,” former New York Appeals

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  • may b28 reed

    (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)


    While momentum is building for the New York State Legislature to pass long-overdue bills directed at bail, discovery, and speedy trial reforms that promise to make the Criminal Court fairer, will these pieces of legislation do more than make a brutal, racist machine slightly less brutal?

    New York’s insidious reliance on money bail is now widely condemned and proposals for reform abound. Some have suggested eliminating cash bail except for certain designated charges. In other words, pre-trial freedom should not depend

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  • gov cuomo provide update clinton

    (photo: the governor's office)


    Taking the stage at the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park last September, Governor Andrew Cuomo promised to end cash bail “once and for all,” a move that would launch New York into the national spotlight with New Jersey and California. “In America you are still innocent until proven guilty,” he told the cheering crowd. “And that’s whether you’re black or white. That’s whether you’re rich or poor.”

    The elimination of the cash bail system, under which poor black and Hispanic New Yorkers

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  • victor della plaza hotel rally

    (photo: The Release Aging People in Prison Campaign)


    For years, advocates, community members, and New York State lawmakers have worked to change our state’s unfair, biased, and harmful criminal legal system. We came together as supporters of common sense, cost-saving reforms that would benefit all New Yorkers. But our efforts were stymied by a political landscape that prevented us from making these important changes.

    Now that landscape is different and the power dynamics in the state Legislature have shifted, it is time for

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    Queens DA Brown and several ADAs (photo: @QueensDABrown)


    Thankfully, “progressive prosecutor” is the new “tough-on-crime” prosecutor, and the trend has been on the rise ever since hardliner Anita Alvarez lost her re-election campaign for Cook County District Attorney in 2016 and progressive crusader Larry Krasner won his campaign for Philadelphia D.A. in 2017. Over the last two years, district attorney elections from Houston to Boston have promised substantial criminal justice reform, and many across the United States are looking to the 2019 Queens District

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  • guards rikers

    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project
    Find the rest of the series here

    Riding high on the crest of a Democratic blue wave powered by grassroots progressives, New York Democrats finally took back the state Senate

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  • govandcuo dannemora

    (photo via the Governor's Office)


    As the year comes to a close, it is undeniably true that criminal justice reform is in the air. The federal First Step Act, even with critics on the left and right, heralds a less punitive approach than the “get tough on crime” policies of the past several decades. Recent elections yielded a number of prosecutors swept into office on platforms focused on confronting racial disparities and rethinking approaches to low-level offenses. Earlier this month, hundreds crammed into a hotel in West Hollywood for ...

  • assembly sponsor bail

    Assemblymember Latrice Walker (photo: Kevin Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project
    Find the rest of the series here

    Assemblymember Latrice Walker, a Brooklyn Democrat, has been pushing for criminal justice reform in New

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  • mayor bloomberg grad2010

    (photo: Spencer T. Tucker/Mayor's Office)


    This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project
    Find the rest of the series here

    The Governor and the Legislature should use this once in a generation opportunity to make New York State the world leader in thoughtful and

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  • city council ar rl jw dr marij

    Rory Lancman (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project
    Find the rest of the series here

    Off-year elections in New York City, like the one next year, tend to hold little significance and command minimal attention, with few positions on the ballot and no headlining executive race like mayor or governor. But in Queens, next year will offer a momentous opportunity for

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    Ben Max, left, of Gotham Gazette, and Jarrett Murphy, right, of City Limits


    This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project
    Find the rest of the series here

    November 14, 2018 - Max & Murphy Podcast: Bail Reform with Assemblymember Latrice Walker

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  • NYPD officers

    (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project
    Find the rest of the series here

    New York City recently took an important step toward police reform. The long-anticipated Right To Know Act has officially gone into effect, with important provisions dictating police-civilian encounters. The Act includes critical laws that will help end unconstitutional searches and require that police officers both identify themselves

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  • whats the data point


    What's The [Data] Point? Episode 52 -- 5,000, with Liz Glazer, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice [You can download What's The [Data] Point? wherever you get your podcasts, including on iTunes]

    glazer elizabeth pod...