State Legislative Leaders Fail to Agree to Any Major Criminal Justice Reforms

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
June 24, 2015 4:45 pm

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NEW YORK – Despite countless protests, the deaths of Eric Garner, Kalief Browder and too many others, and growing distrust between communities and law enforcement agencies, New York State’s legislative leaders announced they have failed to agree to any major criminal justice reforms, inaction denounced by the New York Civil Liberties Union.

“Our leaders have turned their backs on the thousands of New Yorkers who took to the streets over the last year to demand justice and proof that black lives matter,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “By going on summer vacation without taking any meaningful steps toward criminal justice reform, they have failed New Yorkers and they have failed to promote basic justice and fairness.”

At the start of the session, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in his State of the State speech that criminal justice reform was a top priority. Yet many in Albany instead promoted a proposal pushed by billionaires and religious organizations to divert money away from struggling public schools to parochial and private institutions — a breach of the constitutional prohibition barring government endorsement of religion. The proposal was defeated thanks to Assembly’s strong stand.

Among the common sense criminal justice measures in play this session were:

· A proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18 that would have ended New York’s shameful legacy as one of only two states that treats 16- and 17-year-olds as adults;

· A proposal to increase transparency on policing practices by making law enforcement data publicly available; and

· Measures to help prevent wrongful convictions of innocent New Yorkers including mandatory videotaping of interrogations and reforming witness ID procedures.

But all appear to be abandoned.

“It is deeply disappointing that our representatives have dropped the ball, despite historic activism and calls for reform,” Lieberman said. “The state government has turned its back on our communities and is leaving behind a crisis in confidence.”

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