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Speaker Johnson Outlines Proposals For A 21st Century Criminal Justice System

Council Member Corey Johnson (Credit: Jeff Reed)

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen) last week delivered a criminal justice policy speech, unveiling numerous proposals that seek to obtain a fairer and more just criminal justice system for the 21st century across the five boroughs.

The speech, which was given at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, included calls for paroling reform, eliminating mandatory court surcharge, diverting drivers with suspended licenses violations to the Department of Motor Vehicles and creating an alternative to incarceration courtroom, among other measures.

“We are at a pivotal moment in our city. We have moved away from policies like stop-and-frisk and broken windows that for far too long disproportionately hurt communities of color. Through this Council’s efforts over the years – spurred by grassroots activism – we have shown that this approach can keep crime down and keep all communities safe,” said Johnson.

Among other policy reforms outlined in Johnson’s plan was legislation and initiatives being pushed by the City Council to change local law in regards to policing and decriminalizing of certain marginalized groups.

Specifically, Johnson announced that the City Council would pass legislation repealing 50-a, the state law that allows the NYPD to shield police officers from public scrutiny; and pass a resolution in support of repealing the State law related to loitering for the purpose of prostitution.

The Speaker also noted that the Council is supporting the land use process for new jail sites and the closing of Riker’s Island. The Council will invest in alternatives to incarceration such as diversion, rehabilitation and treatment.

“It is time we build on the gains we’ve made and go farther to bring our City where it needs to go. The vision I outlined today shows us how to get there,” added Johnson.

Johnson’s criminal justice reforms come as city and state officials are working to change long held policies that have unfairly affected communities of color and underprivileged New Yorkers.

Earlier this month, state lawmakers eliminated cash bail for most misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenses. The law will go into effect in January 2020 and will now change state law so that most people charged with misdemeanor and non-violent felonies will be automatically released.

Recently, Public Advocate Jummane Wiliams’ legislation that would ban employers from testing prospective employees for marijuana usage in pre-employment hiring practices has now become city law.

Johnson is also looking to become the next Mayor, officially launching his campaign  for the much anticipated mayoral race in 2021 back in January.

The speech which was given at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, included calls for parole reform, expanding diversion programs, eliminating mandatory court surcharges and creating an alternative to incarceration courtroom.  

“We are at a pivotal moment in our city. We have moved away from policies like stop-and-frisk and broken windows that for far too long disproportionately hurt communities of color. Through this Council’s efforts over the years – spurred by grassroots activism – we have shown that this approach can keep crime down and keep all communities safe,” said Johnson.

Among other policy reforms outlines in Johnson’s proposal was diversion and alternatives to addressing the mass incarceration of the mentally ill, instituting a day fine system and diverting drivers with suspended licenses violations to the Department of Motor vehicles.

“It is time we build on the gains we’ve made and go farther to bring our City where it needs to go. The vision I outlined today shows us how to get there,” added Johnson.

Johnson’s criminal justice reforms come as city and state officials are working to change long held policies that have unfairly affected communities of color and underprivileged New Yorkers.

Earlier this month, state lawmakers eliminated cash bail for most misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenses. The law will go into effect in January 2020 and will now change state law so that most people charged with misdemeanor and non-violent felonies will be automatically released.

Recently, Public Advocate Jummane Wiliams’ legislation that would ban employers from testing prospective employees for marijuana usage in pre-employment hiring practices has now become city law.

Johnson is also looking to become the next Mayor, officially launching his campaign  for the much anticipated mayoral race in 2021 back in January.

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