Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Criminal justice reform

Criminal justice reform

  • banana kelly resident

    Housing in the Bronx (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayor's Office)


    In response to George Floyd’s killing and demands to reimagine community safety, Governor Cuomo ordered all local governments to create plans to reform and reinvent their police forces. In response, the New York City Council adopted a “Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative Plan.” The

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    Alvin Bragg at NAN (photo: @AlvinBraggNYC)


    Alvin Bragg, the former Chief Deputy Attorney General for New York State, appears likely to become Manhattan’s next District Attorney. After winning the Democratic primary, in the general election Bragg will face Republican nominee Thomas Kenniff, who has a very steep uphill battle given the overwhelmingly Democratic make-up of Manhattan's electorate and other advantages Bragg comes into the race with, including institutional support. Bragg ran a progressive primary campaign, while still treading something of a

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  • dep corr rikers

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


    June is Torture Awareness Month and it is also the month we both lost our siblings — Kalief Browder and Layleen Polanco — because of the torture of solitary confinement. No other family should ever have to go through the pain and torment our baby brother and baby sister suffered and we continue to suffer. Political leaders from New York City to Washington, D.C. have repeatedly invoked Kalief’s and Layleen’s names to promise to end solitary confinement. Now is the time they must

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  • pat jef co

    Courtroom (photo: @nakrnsm)


    Earlier this year, a report on use of the “trial penalty” -- the increased likelihood that a defendant, if proven guilty at trial, will face a harsher sentence than if they had opted into a plea deal -- in New York showed that its practice by district attorneys threatens the constitutional rights of defendants, limits law enforcement transparency, and weakens the overall integrity of the justice system.

    The report, from the New York State

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  • gender eq hr

    A rally for survivors (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)


    The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office doesn’t currently have prosecutors dedicated to combatting sex crimes. Yes, you read that right. Assistant District Attorneys responsible to victims of sexual violence simultaneously work in the Trial Bureaus and on sex crimes. This means that staff are overloaded, victims are not being put first, and the system churns rather than addresses the root causes of the violence. 

    As a survivor of sexual violence and as a prosecutor whose career has been

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    Manhattan DA Cy Vance (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    As I write this many are breathing a sigh of relief for the guilty verdict returned in the trial of Derek Chauvin. However, we must not forget that prosecution is an intrinsic part of the racist law enforcement regime that resulted in the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, Ma’Khia Bryant, and hundreds of others killed by police officers in the last year. 

    In June, Manhattanites, myself included, will vote in the primary for the top cop in Manhattan—the District

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  • cm raf holds

    Housing rally (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    An advocacy group that has spent decades fighting for the “defunding of harmful systems” is issuing a call to action to New York City’s political class to reorient city government and pursue permanent solutions to longstanding issues of home lessness, substance use, mental health, criminalization, and

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  • taskforce nnouncement along

    Mayor de Blasio, DA Vance & others discuss marijuana legalization (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Because of the coronavirus crisis, New York is facing a massive budget hole and calls for innovative solutions to dig us out of this fiscal crisis. While Governor Cuomo recognizes the tremendous tax windfall that would come with the legalization of adult-use cannabis, this is about more than just tax revenue.

    The reality is that New Yorkers will face a mounting racial and criminal justice crisis without a more

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  • NYPD briefing

    The mayor and NYPD officials (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    February 3, 2021 - Max & Murphy Podcast: Balancing Police Reform and Fighting Crime

    Richard Aborn of the Citizens Crime Commission of NYC joined the show to discuss police reform and keeping the city safe, including a new set of recommendations from his group.

    Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter @TweetBenMaxand ...

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    Top (l-r): Tahanie Aboushi, Alvin Bragg, Eliza Orlins, Tali Farhadian Weinstein; Bottom (l-r): Liz Crotty, Dan Quart, Diana Florence, Lucy Lang


    All eight candidates currently running for Manhattan District Attorney gathered virtually last week for a reform-focused forum. The race to be Manhattan’s top prosecutor is taking place as incumbent District Attorney Cy Vance has not stated whether he will seek reelection, but has not been raising money or making campaign appearances. All eight candidates in the running are, like Vance, Democrats,

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  • edit width despair hope resillence

    State Senator Myrie, a co-author, with other electeds and advocates


    2020 was a year of tragedy and despair, hope and resilience. In 2021 we must take long overdue steps to address the myriad injustices laid bare by the pandemic, and others plainly evident well before COVID-19.

    We must shore up our medical system and our schools. We must rebuild our social safety net. And we must once and for all, decidedly and without hesitation, address the long-standing harms perpetrated by the criminal legal system against

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  • Rikers Island guards bars jail

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


    New York’s state government, its counties, and municipalities altogether spent $18.2 billion in 2019 on police, jails, prisons, prosecutors, parole, and probation while only spending about $6.2 billion on mental health services, public health, youth programs and services, recreation, and elder services, according to a new report.

    The report, by the nonprofit Center for Community Alternatives, examined local, county, and state budgets to place into stark contrast the

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    The Five Borough Defender graph of Manhattan DA candidates (full version below)


    A coalition of New York City's public defenders has released a report analyzing the campaign policies of the Manhattan District Attorney candidates vying to replace incumbent Cy Vance, Jr., and their plans to implement those policies. Vance is unlikely to seek reelection and eight Democrats are running in the June primary.

    The new analysis from Five Boro Defenders was conducted through the group's decarceral lens and based

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  • gov cuomo announces

    Governor Cuomo at a factory (photo: governor's office)


    To The Editor:

    As Gotham Gazette recently reported, “Cuomo Focuses on Economic Revival in Second 2021 State of the State Speech,” Governor Cuomo presented a seven-point agenda for economic recovery in New York, including a new “commission on the future of the New York economy” led by the NYU Wagner School of Public Service. The commission will be given the crucial task of

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  • gov attorney update

    Gov. Cuomo walks a prison (photo: governor's office)


    A crowded field of Democratic candidates is seeking to replace Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, a third-term Democrat, in this year’s election and criminal justice reform advocates have cause for optimism. In a new survey of the candidates, seven of the eight expressed support for a raft of parole and sentencing reforms that advocates have long advocated for as well as discretionary policies aimed at decarceration. Vance has not yet announced his campaign intentions, though he has not been raising

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  • solitary confinement jail cell


    We need to end solitary confinement in our city and state. Spending all day in a cell the size of an elevator can cause permanent brain damage. Common sense tells us this. Science confirms it. But only the words of someone who has been in solitary confinement can begin to explain it.

    “No one to talk to. Nothing to do. I did push-ups. I read the Bible. That’s it. For days.” That is the way my brother-in-law explained it to me. And the haunting look in his eyes –– years later –– conveyed more than words ever could.

    This is an issue of fundamental

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  • gov cuomo order

    Gov. Cuomo signing legislation (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    This summer, New Yorkers statewide simultaneously reckoned with the new reality of COVID-19 and the persistent reality of systemic racist violence. The state Legislature heard the calls from millions in the streets and passed vital legislation during an emergency session that protects the communities most vulnerable to these twin threats. 

    The State Senate and Assembly passed bills that would keep ICE out of New York’s courts and their eyes off COVID-19 contact-tracing ...

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    Gov. Cuomo, Speaker Heastie, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins (photo: Governor's Office)


    Despite facing tough battles in districts that they narrowly won two years ago and being on the verge of defeat in some places, Democrats also flipped a few seats and will grow their large majority in the State Senate, retaining control of both chambers of the Legislature by wide margins. Along with the ongoing tenure of third-term Governor Andrew Cuomo, Democrats will keep full control of New York state government through 2022, the next state election

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  • rikers form one

    Rikers Island (photo: formulanone)


    New York City’s historic commitment to closing the Rikers Island jail complex is in jeopardy. Thanks to an adverse court ruling, a struggling budget, and unfocused political leadership, Mayor de Blasio’s plan to build four new jails at a cost of $9 billion is endangered -- and so is the very idea of closing Rikers. In recent weeks, the discussion over Rikers closure has devolved into debates about real estate, and lost sight of the people and communities harmed by our medieval jail complex and broken criminal justice system.

    It’s

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  • dom vio walk

    The 16th Annual Gladys Ricard and Victims of Domestic Violence Memorial Walk/Brides' March (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is in need of reform, but practicality and feasibility must be considered first and foremost when we look to implement changes that can realistically make a difference in its effectiveness in serving New Yorkers. Make no mistake though, internal and pragmatic changes can make those differences significant for many people who experience what are often traumatic instances of direct contact with our criminal

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  • 3 report positive impacts

    Mayor de Blasio makes an announcement (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Defendants in New York City's pretrial supervised release program are no more likely to miss court than people who have bail set and are not rearrested at a higher rate, according to a city-commissioned study by MDRC's Center for Criminal Justice Research being released Thursday.

    The research, contracted by the Mayor's Office of

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  • office hosted food

    Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez, center, is one of the authors (photo: @BrooklynDA)


    Brooklyn is at a turning point for public safety and criminal justice reform. Through hard work, creativity, and trial and error, both law enforcement and citizen-powered organizations like East Brooklyn Congregations have achieved a sustained, historic drop in crime—but this year has seen troubling shifts. The recent spike in shootings and homicides – coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic and the protests that followed the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis – has thrown people

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  • city working dev

    Housing discrimination must be addressed (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayor's Office)


    In January 2015, I was released from a federal prison in California with the clothes I came in with, a few personal possessions I’d collected over the six years I had been incarcerated, and a bus ticket back to New York City. After a six-day journey home, I found myself subletting a room from a family friend – and as long as the rent was paid on time, they did not ask questions. Living in this apartment allowed me to find employment, cultivate relationships with my family, and continue pursuing

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  • 2 very pathetic

    Charles, left, & Inez Barron, right, at a ceremony with the Mayor & others (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    Anything short of a revolution won’t satisfy Charles and Inez Barron, the married Brooklynites who hold seats in the State Assembly and City Council, respectively, and the police reforms and city budget passed in the wake of recent widespread Black Lives Matter protests serve merely as a distraction to their radical idea of Black-led politics. 

    Assemblymember Charles Barron and City Council Member Inez Barron, both Democrats, have a

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  • avenue bx pres

    Aftermath of looting in the Bronx (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Growing up near New York City in the 1970s and ‘80s, the city seemed a terrifying place, full of gangs, muggers, and tabloid-worthy murders.  

    By the time I moved to the city for work in the mid-’90s, however, it was in the midst of a transformation. The first two neighborhoods I lived in, in Manhattan, were Murray Hill and the East Village, and both initially had terrible reputations. Murray Hill featured street prostitutes and notorious single resident occupancy hotels,

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