CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM


Stopping broken windows policing.  

Columbia Law School professor Bernard Harcourt, who has conducted two major studies on Broken Windows Policing, has stated that there is no evidence that it works.  I agree with his concern that “definitions about what is orderly or disorderly or needs to be ticketed, etc., are often loaded — racially loaded, culturally loaded, politically loaded.”  For example, the city’s decision to start cracking down on subway performers has racial implications because they are often black men.  David Thatcher, a criminologist and professor at the University of Michigan “worries that [Broken Windows Policing] encourages the police to see a broader and broader swath of the people they’re policing as bad guys.”  He also says it can also lead police to use minor offenses inappropriately as a pretext to search for more serious contraband like guns or drugs.

End the criminalization of poverty and mental illness.

When elected, I will propose legislation to expand the policy that Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez introduced in April that in the vast majority of misdemeanor cases, the DA's Office will consent to a person's release while their case is pending.  Three-quarters of people held in jails in New York City are awaiting trial and have not been convicted of a crime, and yet they are incarcerated because they cannot afford bail - 90% of those people are Black or Latino.

I will also work with the state legislature to create more Assertive Community Treatment  (ACT) centers in NYC to meet the increasing demand for alternative solutions to rehabilitating the severely mentally ill. According to the Task Force on Behavioral Health and the Criminal Justice System, while the overall jail population in New York City has decreased from 13,049 in fiscal year 2010 to 11,408 in fiscal year 2014, the percentage of individuals with mental health issues has increased from 29 percent to 38 percent during the same period with 7 percent of the overall jail population suffering from serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Lastly, I believe that on this issue, the state legislature is failing us with the Timothy’s Law loophole that does not mandate that insurance companies cover substance abuse disorders.  This is not only a public health issue but also a preventative measure to reduce crime.

End stop and frisk.

Stop-and-frisk was officially ended in early 2014 but it continues to be implemented unofficially.  It was ruled unconstitutional, plain and simple.  It should stay in the past where it belongs.  I feel very passionately about this because stop-and-frisk, much like Broken Windows Policing, is applied heavily to communities of color.  According to data collected from the NYCLU from 2003 to 2015, more than half of those detained and searched, were black, and nearly a third were Latino.  Earlier this year, the NYPD released a document explaining their body camera trial process.  In the document, it says, “If a body-worn camera captures a significant use of force, the officer involved will be allowed to look at the video before making a sworn statement, but only with supervisor approval.”  This is unacceptable.  While civilian witnesses and suspects are isolated, detained, and badgered immediately after law enforcement encounters, compelled to make a statement without being allowed access to evidence that could keep them from incriminating themselves, the NYPD will allow its officers to view their own footage before going on the record about what happened.  I will work to end that condition of the body camera issue.  The whole point is to hold officers accountable for their policing, not aid them unfairly during an investigation.

In addition to pushing back against these serious problems within our criminal justice system, I will also:

  • Fight against insurance companies that provide higher work-based compensation against people who were formally impacted by the criminal justice system.  We need to stop allowing unfair obstacles from hindering the reentry of people formerly impacted by the criminal justice system into society.

  • Fund more reentry programs for ex-convicts such as the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) with tax breaks as incentives to provide these men and women with more economic opportunities and a chance to truly reintegrate into society

  • Support the Ban the Box campaign so that employers interested in candidates can’t look at their criminal history until they offer a conditional letter of employment, which can’t be revoked unless the candidate committed a crime related to the position in question.  The objective of the criminal justice system is not only to punish but to rehabilitate.

  • Push for the automatic re-registration of convicted felons once their parole is over. Forcing them to re-register themselves indirectly suppresses their vote.