Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Criminal justice reform

Criminal justice reform

  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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.

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  • '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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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.

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  • 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

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  • Sealing Records, Opening Doors

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    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

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  • Eric Adams’ Choice: A Deputy Mayor for Justice

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    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

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

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    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

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

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    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

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

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    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

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  • WATCH: Manhattan District Attorney General Election Debate

    Gotham Gazette:

    Alvin Bragg, left, & Thomas Kenniff


    In the general election for Manhattan District Attorney, Democratic nominee Alvin Bragg and Republican nominee Thomas Kenniff met for a debate hosted by Manhattan Neighborhood Network and moderated by Gotham Gazette's Ben Max. Watch:

  • Debate Over Reform and Safety in Manhattan District Attorney General Election

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    Alvin Bragg, left, & Thomas Kenniff


    With Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. retiring after 12 years leading one of the most high-profile prosecutorial offices in the country, Alvin Bragg emerged from a crowded, competitive, expensive, and closely-watched Democratic primary and is now in the midst of a one-on-one general election. Bragg, a progressive former prosecutor and top deputy New York Attorney General, competing with Republican nominee Thomas Kenniff, a former military judge and criminal defense attorney.

    The

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  • Ending New York's Love Affair with Life Sentences

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    Fishkill (photo: ©2021 Google Maps)


    After being in maximum security prisons for approximately 30 years, one day I found myself in a van headed toward a medium security prison called Fishkill Correctional Facility. 

    Looking back then, I remember seeing “Greenhaven,'' the maximum-security prison I was leaving behind and its imposing thirty-foot high fortress walls with guards patrolling the towers. Greenhaven has one of the largest populations of convicted people serving various kinds of sentences. More than half of the approximately 1,500

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  • Max Politics Podcast: Tiffany Cabán Heads Toward the City Council

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    Tiffany Cabán (photo: cabanforqueens.com)


    August 2, 2021 - Max Politics Podcast: Tiffany Cabán Heads Toward the City Council

    Tiffany Cabán, the Democratic nominee for City Council in Queens' District 22 and a leader of the city's left political movement, joined host Ben Max to discuss her primary win, plans for joining the City Council, latest thoughts on policing, NYPD funding, and "budget justice," and much more.

    Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter ...

  • Housing for Everyone Makes Everyone Safer: The City Council Must Ensure a Fair Chance for Housing for All

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    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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  • Post-Primary Win, Bragg Promotes Plans for Manhattan DA's Office

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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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  • We Lost Our Siblings to Solitary Confinement; This Torture Must End Now

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    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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  • Candidates for Manhattan District Attorney on Ending the 'Trial Penalty'

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    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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