Gotham Gazette

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Criminal justice reform

Criminal justice reform

  • 'Critical to the Future': City Council Considers Two Board of Correction Nominees

    Mayor Adams on Rikers Island (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)

    The New York City Board of Correction, a nine-seat panel with oversight over city jails, may soon have two new members including a former Rikers Island doctor critical of mass incarceration and a national expert on corrections policy who now leads the advocacy group that successfully advocated for the planned closure of the Rikers jail complex.

    The City Council’s Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections on Wednesday held a hearing to question two of its own Board of Correction nominees – Dr. Rachael Bedard, former senior

  • Nearly A Year In, No Sign of Adams' Promised NYPD Watchlist

    Mayor Adams with NYPD officials (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

    In his first nearly twelve months in office, Mayor Eric Adams has shown no signs of moving on a major campaign promise to publish a list of police officers the NYPD is watching for violent or otherwise unseemly behavior.

    The promise was one of the more striking commitments the would-be mayor made to boost accountability within the ranks of the police force, a department of 34,000 uniformed officers. It was also one of the more tangible pledges Adams made to demonstrate his commitment to balancing police reform with

  • Governor Hochul Must Fulfill Her Promise of Compassion and Clemency; We Can Help

    Gov. Hochul at the Court of Appeals (photo: Mike Groll/Governor's Office)

    As we sat together in a Brooklyn backyard, we examined shared circumstances: all of us were convicted of serious crimes that caused immeasurable harm, received a life sentence, and served decades behind bars. Now, all of us have much to be thankful for – we each had our sentence commuted through clemency. Collectively, we reflect on the many people still in prison who merit the same consideration.

    Each of us has been doing all we can to

  • No One Can See The Future: New York Needs Second-Look Sentencing Before More Lives Are Wasted

    The Court of Appeals (photo: Mike Groll/Governor's Office)

    The past few years have put into stark relief our inability to predict the future. Virologists, epidemiologists, and related medical professionals repeatedly reevaluate their views regarding COVID-19 and its variants. Economists daily revise their opinions about inflation, interest rate hikes, and the likelihood of a recession. Political pundits and pollsters are scurrying to explain why their election prognostications were off the mark. No one can gainsay the limited ability of meteorologists to

  • Criminalized Survivors Deserve Sentencing Reform

    Gov. Hochul signs legislation (photo: Darren McGee/Governor's Office)

    Although it might sound counterintuitive to some, sentencing reform is necessary to effectively address intimate partner violence and support victims.

    To start with, sentencing reform benefits criminalized survivors, victims of violence convicted of crimes related to their own victimization. Sometimes the victims of these crimes are their abusive partners; sometimes the crimes are committed at the behest of, or under duress from, their

  • Don't Believe the Hype; Bail Reform is Good Policy and Good Politics

    Speaker Heastie & Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins (photo: State Senate)

    In 2019, Democrats in New York were feeling pretty good. New York City had its first two-term Democratic mayor since the 1980s. Democrats controlled the Governor’s mansion in Albany and every other statewide office. We controlled the State Assembly and the State Senate – both with commanding majorities.

    Washington, of course, was a mess. One party was in the thrall of a former game show host, and they were too afraid of upsetting him to get

  • Reason to be Thankful This Holiday Season: New Law Empowers Sexual Assault Survivors

    Gov. Hochul signs the Adult Survivors Act (photo: Mike Groll/Governor's Office)

    On Thanksgiving, survivors of sexual abuse in New York had something to be truly thankful for. November 24 marked the opening of a one-year period when, under a new law, survivors can file a civil claim against the person who abused them and any institutions that enabled the abuse, no matter how long ago the abuse happened.

    This law,...

  • Bail Reform Remains at Center of New York Political Debate But State Legislature has Never Held a Hearing On It

    Outside Rikers Island (photo: William Alatriste/NYC Council)

    New York State’s sweeping bail reform law first went into effect in January 2020 and has been subsequently amended twice since then in response to widespread opposition from law enforcement, Republican officials, and some moderate and conservative Democrats. Since its first passage -- through three consecutive legislative sessions and into this statewide election year -- bail reform has been a highly contentious issue, with heated political rhetoric often outpacing facts.

    It is now among the top issues Republicans are focused on in

  • We Don’t Need a ‘Plan B,’ Mayor Adams; New York City Needs You to Shut Rikers Down

    Mayor Adams at Rikers (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    As the crisis on Rikers Island continues and the death toll soars, Mayor Eric Adamstold New Yorkers last week that there needs to be a “plan B” for the city’s plan to shutter the notorious jail complex, suggesting he may not close Rikers at all. This

  • Max Politics Podcast: Experts Call for a Federal Receiver for Rikers Island

    Mayor Adams visits Rikers Island (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)

    August 19, 2022 - Experts Call for a Federal Receiver for Rikers Island

    New York City criminal justice system veterans Elizabeth Glazer and Vincent Schiraldi joined the show to discuss their experience working in city government, the crisis at Rikers Island jails and what do about it and other problems plaguing the city's larger safety ecosystem.

    Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter @TweetBenMax. You can listen

  • The Mayor’s Mission and the Mess at Rikers

    Mayor Adams visits Rikers Island (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    The U.S. criminal justice system is at a crossroads. After the killing of George Floyd, there werebipartisan

    My Son’s Pretrial Incarceration Shows Everything Wrong with the System

    "Rikers is a death sentence" (photo: Gerardo Romo/NYC Council Media Unit)

    If you listen tothe NYPD Commissioner, you would think that after bail reform was passed in 2019, everyone was released from jail and judges lost all power to send people there. I know from painful personal experience that is false.

    Thousands of people are still

  • Finally Compensating New York's Wrongfully Convicted

    Cleaning up at Rikers (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    The United States is the world’s largest jailor. As a result of our criminal justice system, we regularly put innocent people behind bars.Conservative estimates say 20,000 people are currently in jail or prison throughout the nation for crimes they did not commit.


  • 'Clean Slate' Will Create a More Equitable and Inclusive New York

    A rally for the Clean Slate Act (photo: Emil Cohen/NYC Council Media Unit)

    With the end of this year’s legislative session in Albany quickly approaching, we must seize the opportunity to pass critical reforms that will have a real impact on advancing racial and economic equity in our state. The Clean Slate Act holds the potential for meaningful progress in our fight for justice, directly impacting 2.3 million New Yorkers. The passage of this bill by the State Legislature will affirm New York’s principles and prioritization of equity, and it is past time for serious

  • Qualified Immunity is a Jim Crow Relic; For a More Just Future, New York Must End This Harmful Doctrine

    Taking stock of history and policy (photo: Paige Polk/Mayoral Photography Office)

    In the period following the Civil War, slavery had ended, but the horrors of racial violence persisted. The Ku Klux Klan terrorized newly-emancipated Black Americans with lynching, mob violence, and other vile forms of intimidation and brutality. In response, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1871...

  • 12 Issues to Watch in Albany's Post-Budget Legislative Session

    Legislative leaders Stewart-Cousins and Heastie (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)

    With a whopping $220 billion state budget approved, Governor Kathy Hochul and the State Legislature now move on to the post-budget legislative session with a long list of issues to address. The governor and two legislative majorities, all Democrats, have their own priorities, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams also has unfinished state business that he is hoping to accomplish before the session is over.

    But the clock is ticking, with the legislative session scheduled to end June 2, just

  • No Rollbacks to Raise the Age

    Top New York officials (photo: office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

    Jewish tradition offers us a comprehensive blueprint for how to build just and caring communities. From the very beginning of our story, we learn that we are knit together with a clear directive toward mutual obligation and responsibility. Supporting and nurturing our children is a fundamental part of that ethos.

    We were devastated to see Governor Hochul’s last-minute proposals to include rollbacks to New York’s historic Raise the Age legislation in state

  • Max Politics Podcast: Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt on State Budget Priorities

    Senate GOP Leader Rob Ortt at a rally (photo: NY Senate GOP)

    March 29, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt on State Budget Priorities

    Rob Ortt, the State Senate Republican Minority Leader, joined the show to discuss state budget negotiations and top priorities for the GOP conference, including bail reform and more, as well as the potential Buffalo Bills stadium deal.

    Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter @TweetBenMax. You can listen to the show through the

  • Solving The Crisis of Rikers Now and In The Future

    Outside Rikers Island jails (photo: Gerardo Romo/NYC Council Media Unit)

    Rikers Island is a devastatingly terrible investment. New York City spends more on jails than anywhere else in the country – over $500,000 per person per year. Yet, violence rates dwarf those elsewhere.

    The jails on Rikers Island are decrepit beyond repair. Their crumbling walls are turned into weapons. Built mostly on decaying landfill, the jails are plagued by methane leaks and asbestos. Working conditions for staff, and morale, are abysmal.

  • We Need Eric Adams to be the Mayor Who Closes Rikers

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    Eric Adams at church (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    Throughout his campaign, Mayor Eric Adams spoke about the dysfunction that plagues our city, stemming from a failure to go ‘upstream’ to address the problems we face. There is no more tragic example of this than Rikers Island, where conditions are so dire that hundreds of incarcerated people have launched a hunger strike.

    The moral costs of this stain

  • Sealing Records, Opening Doors

    sealing rec

    Gov. Hochul signs legislation (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)

    Imagine being a young, impressionable teenager unable to vote or even drive a car. A teenager who can’t take a field trip, get a passport, or make health decisions without the guidance and consent of an adult; but if you made a terrible mistake, you were held accountable as if you were an adult.

    Young people are more emotional, vulnerable, and impulsive than adults. Yet, prior to 2019, 16- and 17-year-old teenagers across New York State were automatically charged and

  • Eric Adams’ Choice: A Deputy Mayor for Justice

    Eric Adams NYPD precinct public safety

    Mayor-elect Eric Adams outside the 71st Precinct (photo: Erica Sherman/Brooklyn BP's Office)

    The last time that New York City had a deputy mayor for public safety, New York City was in crisis. In 1990, murders topped out at over 2,200 – seven times the city’s low in 2018.

    Mayor David Dinkins directed his new appointee, Judge Milton Mollen, to “confront the crime that

  • ‘Less is More’ is Needed Now, Not in March

    less is more

    Gov. Hochul signs the Less Is More Act (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)

    The state of New York took a moral step recently when Governor Hochul signed into law the Less Is More Act, which aims to soften the draconian parole laws that have disproportionately harmed people of color. Nearly 200 New Yorkers re-joined their families as soon as the bill became law, freeing them from

  • How New York City Ended Mass Incarceration for 30 Days and Could Do It Again

    rikers doc tours

    Mayor de Blasio on Rikers Island (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    Just over a year ago, the city of New York did something special, a monumental achievement not seen since the end of World War II. In May of 2020, for the first time since 1946, the average daily population (ADP) of city jails dropped below 4,000.

    A combination that included the plan toward a reduced-capacity borough-based jail system, significant bail reform taking accused people’s ability to pay into account, and transitional housing facilities like the ones

  • Manhattan District Attorney Candidates Bragg and Kenniff Debate Resumes and Visions

    Gotham Gazette:

    Manhattan DA candidates Alvin Bragg, left, & Thomas Kenniff

    The two candidates running for Manhattan District Attorney in the imminent fall election met recently for a spirited televised debate, with issues ranging from the bail system to gun violence and each aspirant’s record of public service.

    Democratic nominee Alvin Bragg, a former prosecutor and top deputy New York Attorney General, and Republican nominee Thomas Kenniff, a former military judge and criminal defense attorney, sparred over their resumes and visions for the office in a debate hosted by