Criminal Justice

Hochul signs bill creating commission to study slavery reparation

BY Tim Williams , Luke Parsnow and Bernadette Hogan New York State
UPDATED 6:04 PM ET Dec. 19, 2023

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday signed a bill into law that will create a community commission to look into potential slavery reparation.

The panel will be tasked with studying the state's history of slavery and how to repair its lasting impacts on descendants of enslaved New Yorkers. Slavery remained legal in New York until 1827.

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Hochul expected to sign slavery reparation commission bill on Tuesday

BY Tim Williams New York State

Gov. Kathy Hochul is expected to sign legislation Tuesday which would create a community commission that would look into potential slavery reparation remedies, according to the bill’s sponsor, state Assembly Member Michaelle Solages.

The commission would be tasked with studying the state's history of slavery and how to repair its lasting impacts on descendants of enslaved New Yorkers. Slavery remained legal in New York until 1827.

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New York state senator introduces bill aimed to increase criminal court decision transparency

BY Luke Parsnow New York State

New York state Senate Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris is introducing a bill aimed to increase the transparency of New York's criminal courts following a report that shows a very small percentage of criminal court decisions are published, the senator announced Monday.

The report, from Reinvent Albany, and co-authored by Scrutinize, said at least 94% of written criminal court decisions in New York are not published and calls for decisions to be published online to improve public accountability.

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Clean Slate signing draws praise, public safety concerns

BY Kate Lisa New York State

As criminal justice advocates celebrate Thursday's signing of the Clean Slate Act to seal New Yorkers' past criminal records, Republican lawmakers and some prosecutors are raising concerns about its potential consequences.

Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the Clean Slate Act into law Thursday morning at the Brooklyn Museum. The long-debated legislation will automatically seal a person's criminal records three years after the end of the prison sentence for a misdemeanor, and eight years for most felony records.

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Hochul signs Clean Slate Act into law

BY Luke Parsnow New York State

Gov. Kathy Hochul has signed into law a long-debated bill to automatically seal the criminal records of millions of New Yorkers a certain period after their release, she announced Thursday.

Known as the Clean Slate Act, the law will automatically seal criminal records for about 2.3 million New Yorkers three years after sentencing for a misdemeanor and eight years after a person is released from prison for a felony conviction. It does not apply to class A felonies or crimes that required a person to register as a sex offender.

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New York Assembly Republicans urge more fixes to bail reform law following Cornell threats

BY Jack Arpey New York State

New York Assembly Republican Leader Will Barclay (R,C-Pulaski) and the Assembly Republican Conference introduced a bill Friday that would make certain criminal offenses bail-eligible, in response in part to recent threats made against Jewish students at Cornell University.

In part, the bill looks to ensure that threats of mass harm can be treated as hate crimes, while also giving judges more discretion when making pre-trial decisions.

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Hochul to sign Clean Slate Act next week, sources say

BY Luke Parsnow and Kate Lisa New York State

Gov. Kathy Hochul next week will sign a long-debated bill to automatically seal the criminal records of millions of New Yorkers a certain period after their sentencing, according to sources that say the governor's office sent out invitations for the bill signing, continuing a years-long Democratic crusade in Albany of passing criminal justice reform.

Known as the Clean Slate Act, the legislation will automatically seal criminal records for about 2.3 million New Yorkers three years after sentencing for a misdemeanor and eight years after a person is released from prison for a felony conviction. It does not apply to class A felonies or crimes that required a person to register as a sex offender.

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New York constitutional amendment to ‘end slavery for all’ would focus on prison labor

BY Nick Reisman and Tim Williams New York State

Over 160 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which ended slavery in the United States. Now in 2023, state lawmakers are considering a constitutional amendment that would mark an “end of slavery for all” by ending forced labor in prisons in the state of New York.

The amendment’s state Senate sponsor, Zellnor Myrie, told Capital Tonight that the amendment would make a “statement” that “we will not have slavery by any form or by any name exist in this state.”

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Hochul: New panel will review criminal justice policies

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Over the last four years, New York officials have made changes to the state's criminal justice policies. Now, a new panel announced Wednesday by Gov. Kathy Hochul will review the policies and make recommendations for potential changes.

The effort will be led by Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado and Division of Criminal Justice Services Commissioner Rossana Rosado with the portfolio of assessing current state policies and programs while also proposing new measures meant to strengthen New York's "efforts to advance equity, reduce disparities, and decrease recidivism to make communities safer and stronger," Hochul's office said.

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Hochul: Public safety strides have been made

BY Nick Reisman New York State

When Gov. Kathy Hochul ran for a full term last year, Republicans repeatedly raised the issue of crime and public safety concerns facing New Yorkers.

She pivoted in January to making another push for changing the state's cashless bail, which had been a flashpoint in the election season. Six months later, Hochul this week said progress has been made in making the state safer.

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Convictions could get more scrutiny in New York

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Convictions in New York could soon face more scrutiny under legislation given final approval this week by state lawmakers.

For supporters, it's another step toward creating a more equitable criminal justice system, especially for defendants of color. But opponents, including Republican lawmakers and law enforcement officials, say the measure raises too many potential questions for victims of crime.

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New York advocates to watch 'Clean Slate' implementation as DAs seek veto

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Years of lobbying have led to this point for criminal justice advocates: A bill will be heading to Gov. Kathy Hochul's desk that would automatically seal an estimated 2.3 million criminal records.

Supporters are turning their attention to the implementation of the pending law as well as alerting people who will be affected that their criminal record will be sealed without any action on their part. But opponents, including the statewide district attorneys association in New York, are continuing to raise public safety concerns with the measure while urging the governor to veto it.

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Hochul signals final automatic records sealing bill closer to what she wanted

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

The finalized measure that would automatically seal millions of criminal records in New York may have satisfied the concerns of Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The governor, speaking in Buffalo earlier on Monday, signaled the legislatively approved measure is "much closer to what I've asked for" when it comes to exceptions for crimes like murder and rape.

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Records sealing bill weighed in final New York legislative session day

BY Nick Reisman New York State

A major agreement for housing is off the table in Albany, but a bill to seal many criminal records remains very much alive.

New York lawmakers are working to conclude the legislative session that could culminate with a bill that seals many criminal records. It's a long-sought measure for criminal justice reform advocates, but one that has been opposed by law enforcement organizations who mounted a final effort on Thursday to oppose the legislation.

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New York lawmakers see hopes, pitfalls in sealing criminal records

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

For supporters of automatically sealing criminal records in New York, millions of people with criminal convictions that are now years old would be able to secure housing and a job — potentially keeping them out of the criminal justice system for good.

For opponents, the measure raises too many logistical and public safety question marks.

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Housing, criminal records sealing lead end-of-session conversation in Albany

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Housing policy to address a spiraling affordability problem and a measure that would seal criminal records after a number of years for potentially millions of New Yorkers have become the top-tier issues ending the legislative session in Albany.

State lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul are weighing agreements on both issues as members of the Legislature seek to conclude their Capitol work for the remainder of the year.

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New York lawmakers close to deal on Clean Slate Act

BY Kate Lisa New York State

State legislative leaders say they're close to reaching a deal to change state law to seal New Yorkers' criminal records after a certain period of time as the legislative session races toward the finish line.

"We are definitely negotiationg — I think we're pretty close," Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins told reporters in the Capitol on Wednesday.

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Debate over sealing criminal records in New York may hinge on time

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

Whether to seal criminal records in New York is coming down to one key question for Democrats: How long should a person’s conviction affect their life?

Democratic lawmakers this month are negotiating a plan that would seal many criminal records — helping those with convictions obtain a job or housing. But Republicans remain skeptical, arguing that recidivism is harder to judge and capture.

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New York support builds for making parole easier for people with long sentences

BY Nick Reisman New York State

A proposal that would make it easier for people who have served more than a decade in prison to be considered for parole is gaining ground in the state Senate with a majority of lawmakers in the chamber now signing on to support the bill.

Supporters of the legislation on Tuesday announced the bill has the backing of 32 lawmakers as advocates hope to approve the measure before the legislative session ends on June 8.

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New York advocates strengthen push for 'Clean Slate' bill before session ends

BY Nick Reisman and Tim Williams New York State

With the clock ticking down on the New York legislative session, criminal justice advocates are calling for passing “Clean Slate” legislation before the scheduled end of the legislative session on June 8.

State Assemblymember Catalina Cruz, a Queens Democrat who sponsors the legislation in the Assembly, told Capital Tonight that she’s “confident” that the bill can get done by June 8 thanks to additional support the bill has gotten after “significant changes” were made.

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Broad range of criminal justice measures debated in Albany

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

New York state lawmakers, facing the final month of the legislative session, are considering a broad range of measures meant to address the state's criminal justice and public safety laws as voters continue to rank crime as a top priority for them.

The measures are varied: Supporters hope a bill to seal many criminal records is gaining momentum in the state Assembly, while Democrats are also calling for provisions to address retail theft and assaults on workers.

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Bill to seal criminal records gains traction in New York Assembly

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

For years, criminal justice advocates have called for a measure to seal many criminal records in New York in order to help formerly convicted people find employment.

But the legislation has stalled in the state Assembly, which despite its large Democratic majority and recent track record of making progressive-backed changes to criminal justice laws, has not taken up the provision known as the Clean Slate Act for a vote.

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Once again, New York's bail law is set to change

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

For the third time in the last four years, New York's law for when cash bail is required in criminal cases is set to change, an amendment driven by ongoing concerns over crime and public safety registered by voters, but opposed by the progressive supporters of a 2019 law.

An agreement in the tentative state budget deal announced Thursday by Gov. Kathy Hochul will end the so-called "least restrictive" restrictive standard when bail is being considered by judges in serious criminal cases and give them more discretion when considering bail.

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Beyond bail, more criminal justice changes are considered in New York budget talks

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

Changes to New York’s controversial bail law have dominated the budget talks. But behind the scenes, further changes to the state’s criminal justice system could be made as part of a final spending plan that is now more than two weeks past its due date.

Lawmakers are weighing with Gov. Kathy Hochul whether to make further changes to the state's discovery law first approved four years ago as a way of accelerating access to evidence for criminal defendants.

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Discovery law changes could be part of New York budget talks

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

Discovery laws in New York could be under scrutiny in the state budget talks as organizations representing public defenders on Wednesday raised opposition to any potential amendments.

Prosecutors have called for changes as well as more money to handle the faster turning over of evidence to defense, pointing to how time consuming the recently passed provisions have become for their offices.

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Changing New York's bail law a complex task for state leaders

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Changes to how New York’s bail laws work have courted growing controversy over the last four years – and are coming to a head in the state budget talks this month.

Top Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul are trying to thread a delicate needle: Making changes to a 2019 law that ended cash bail requirements for many criminal charges without undermining the original intent of the measure to ensure low-income people accused of crimes are not unfairly languishing in jail awaiting trial.

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Bail law changes continue to take up lion's share of New York budget talks

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Potential changes to New York's bail law remains the dominate issue in the ongoing budget talks, now 10 days past its due date.

State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie told reporters Monday the negotiations continue to center around Gov. Kathy Hochul's effort to make it easier for judges to set cash bail when defendants face serious criminal charges.

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Labor unions push back on proposed New York bail law changes

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Labor unions this week are urging lawmakers to reject proposals to amend New York's 2019 law that limited the use of cash bail as the late state budget hinges on whether a deal on the issue can be reached.

Hochul wants to end the so-called "least restrictive" provision under the law that could enable judges to require bail under serious criminal charges. A broader state budget agreement has been late by a week over the issue.

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Bail debate 'sucking up most of the oxygen' in New York's budget talks

BY Nick Reisman Albany

New York's state budget debate has included weighty topics that will affect millions of people in the state: How to expand housing, whether the minimum wage should be increased, whether charter schools should expand and if wealthy people should get another tax increase.

But all of those issues are being subsumed in the budget talks by negotiations over once again changing New York's 2019 bail law.

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200 progressive groups urge against sweeping bail changes

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Hundreds of progressive-leaning organizations on Monday urged state lawmakers to avoid broad changes to New York's bail law that would result in jailing more defendants.

The plea from the groups, including the Fund Excluded Workers Coalition, CUNY Rising Alliance, Housing Justice for All, Sunrise Movement NYC, and the Alliance for Quality Education, comes as lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul are negotiating a state budget that was due to pass last weekend, but remains unsettled.

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Bail law remains key sticking point as New York's budget misses deadline

BY Nick Reisman Albany

New York will start its fiscal year without a state budget in place as Gov. Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers have failed to reach the April 1 deadline amid differences over issues that range from housing policy to making alterations to a 2019 bail law.

Talks are expected to continue into the weekend between the governor and the top Democrats in the state Legislature. But rank-and-file members of the state Assembly and Senate have left the building, and despite the warnings from legislative leaders, indicated they will be out of Albany for at least part of the weekend with no agreement appearing imminent.

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New York lawmakers weigh compromise on bail law changes

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Top Democrats in the state Legislature on Thursday signaled a willingness to "clarify" New York's 2019 bail law as conversations surrounding the issue remain a key sticking point in the unresolved state budget talks.

State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins did not rule out a potential compromise on the bail issue as Gov. Kathy Hochul has called for ending a so-called "least restrictive" provision for when judges determine bail for serious criminal charges.

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Law school professors urge against New York bail law changes

BY Nick Reisman Albany

More than 100 law school professors in New York, in a letter to top state officials, urged them to turn down changes to a law that curtailed the use of cash bail for criminal charges.

The letter argues that contracting the law to end the use of a "least restrictive" means standard for when judges consider bail for serious criminal charges would lead to lower-income people and people of color behind bars while awaiting trial.

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Hochul defends bail law changes, public safety funds in executive budget

BY Kate Lisa New York State

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday defended the public safety initiatives in her executive budget proposal, including her push to change the state's bail reform laws, after releasing new statewide crime data from the state Department of Criminal Justice Services.

Shootings in New York decreased by 16% from 2021 to 2022, including down 15% in upstate communities and a 17% reduction in New York City — or down to pre-pandemic levels, the governor said during a press conference in the state Capitol in Albany.

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Proposal to seal criminal records advances in New York Senate

BY Nick Reisman Albany

A bill that aims to seal many criminal records in New York is advancing in the state Senate after it was approved by a key committee in the chamber.

But full passage of the measure remains in doubt once again this year as supporters hope to either have the provision included in an agreed-to state budget in the coming days or approved by June 8, the final scheduled day of the legislative session.

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Public safety debates could dominate final New York state budget talks

BY Nick Reisman Albany

A debate over the extent to which New York's criminal justice laws should be changed — balanced against concerns over crime and public safety — is once again dominating the budget negotiations in Albany.

Measures to address crime, but also create a more equitable system of criminal justice in New York, is part of the push and pull in the state budget talks with less than two weeks to go before the April 1 deadline.

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Democratic state lawmakers say crime can be addressed without bail changes

BY Nick Reisman Albany

New York state lawmakers unveiling their own budget proposals this week in negotiations with Gov. Kathy Hochul are calling for measures meant to address public safety, such as spending more money for after school programs, funding anti-violence organizations and addressing support for public defenders as well as prosecutors.

But top Democratic leaders in the state Senate and Assembly on Wednesday, a day after the proposals were released, indicated they had little intention of making further changes to a 2019 bail law that ended cash bail requirements for many criminal charges.

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New York state legislators of color push for a ‘People’s Budget’

BY Nick Reisman and Tim Williams New York State

This past weekend, the members of the Legislative Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus met up in Albany for their annual conference weekend.

The caucus’ chair, state Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, a Long Island Democrat, told Capital Tonight that the weekend is used to celebrate successes and hammer out solutions to “systemic injustices” that communities of colors face in New York.

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Can the needle on bail debate move in New York?

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Last year, New York's law that curtailed the use of cash bail for many criminal charges became a flashpoint in the race for governor and a debate over public safety in the state.

But eight weeks into the new legislative session in Albany this year, the bail law has barely been a blip on the radar even as Gov. Kathy Hochul seeks yet another change to the measure.

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Criminal record sealing measure gains backing in New York Assembly

BY Nick Reisman Albany

A bill meant to seal many criminal records has gained the backing of all of the newly Democratic elected members of the New York state Assembly, supporters of the legislation on Wednesday said.

The proposal, known as the Clean Slate Act by its supporters, has stalled in the state Assembly over the last several years.

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State lawmakers propose bail training law for New York judges

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Judges who preside over criminal courts would be required to undergo yearly training for New York's bail laws under a measure proposed Thursday by two state lawmakers.

The proposal, which was also paired with a measure that is meant to tighten investigative oversight by the Commission on Judicial Conduct, comes as Gov. Kathy Hochul has proposed in her $227 billion budget plan a change to the law that has largely restricted cash bail requirements for many criminal charges.

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Legal Aid urges New York lawmakers to balance the scales of justice, as well as funding

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

There is a lot in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s executive budget that the Legal Aid Society is disappointed with, including what it calls the budget’s failure to propose any new money for public defenders and legal service organizations.

“It’s really astonishing,” Tina Luongo, chief attorney of the Criminal Defense Practice for the Legal Aid Society, said of the governor’s $141 million increase in the Aid to Prosecution budget, and zero increase in the Aid to Defense budget for public defenders.

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New York lawmakers advance measure to seal criminal records

BY Nick Reisman Albany

A bill that would seal many criminal records in New York has advanced through a key committee in the state Senate on Tuesday, but its fate this session in Albany remains up in the air.

Lawmakers on the state Senate Codes Committee approved the measure, known by its supporters as the Clean Slate Act, a move that sets the proposal up for final passage in the state Senate.

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New York prosecutors say a criminal justice law change has gone unfunded

BY Nick Reisman Albany

As she begins her full term this year, Gov. Kathy Hochul has promised to tackle voter concerns around crime. A key plank on her public safety agenda is increasing funding for changes to how evidence is handled in criminal cases.

"We are not going to allow people to commit crimes and violate our laws and hurt other individuals," Hochul said last week after visiting the Albany Public Safety Building. "We’re finding many, many ways to address it."

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Albany LEAD: A diversion program that’s growing

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

It’s a heavy lift achieving racial equity within well-established systems, including criminal justice, but that’s the goal of the Albany LEAD program: To drive greater racial equity in the legal system.

LEAD, which is an acronym for “Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion," started in Seattle, Washington in 2011. The program came to Albany in 2016. Since its inception, Albany Police have diverted 315 people from arrest.

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Hochul open to reviewing bail data, law when session resumes

BY Kate Lisa New York State

Standing together in the Capitol in Albany on Monday, Gov. Kathy Hochul and state Attorney General Letitia James said they will analyze pretrial release and other data in wake of changes the Legislature made to the state's cashless bail laws this spring.

Gov. Hochul left changing the state's bail laws open for discussion when the Legislature returns for session in January.

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Financial assistance for crime victims in New York is increasing

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Financial assistance for the victims and survivors of crime whose property was damaged, stolen or destroyed will be able to receive up to $2,500 to replace items deemed to be essential for their health, safety or welfare.

The new reimbursement ends a $500 cap on damaged or stolen property.

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Times Union’s Josh Solomon on new DCJS crime stats

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

One of the most politicized issues of this election cycle is bail reform.

Republicans, including gubernatorial candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin, have argued that cashless bail has led to an increase in crime. Democrats like Gov. Kathy Hochul say it hasn’t.

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Stefanik opposes credit card tracking for gun purchases

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik released a letter on Wednesday questioning the move to change a purchasing code that could make it easier for authorities to track gun purchases.

The change, made by an international regulatory body earlier this year, has been embraced by Democrats and supporters of stricter gun laws. But Republicans, as well as gun dealers and owners, have called the change an erosion of rights and privacy.

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Zeldin, New York GOP candidates use WNY case to hammer state's bail laws

BY Ryan Whalen Western New York

Republicans across New York have been pushing for the state to change its bail laws.

Candidate for governor Lee Zeldin said while the governor's office uses data points to argue the current laws are working, there are too many stories of criminals who are released and proceed to commit more heinous crimes.

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Heastie says he's open to judicial training for bail law

BY Nick Reisman Albany

New York state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has remained one of the most steadfast and prominent supporters of the state measures that largely ended cash bail for many criminal charges.

And as the law has become a flashpoint in a larger debtate over crime and public safety in New York statewide, Heastie has decried how the law has been blamed — in his view unfarily — for rising violence.

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Former Gov. George Pataki expects crime will resonate with New York voters

BY Nick Reisman Albany

In 1994, Republican George Pataki unseated Democratic incumbent Mario Cuomo in the governor's race in part with a pledge to tackle crime and public safety in New York.

Now, nearly 30 years later, Pataki sees parallels in the campaign for governor as Republican nominee Lee Zeldin pushes a public safety message.

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New York will no longer use 'inmate' for people in prison

BY Nick Reisman Albany

New York's law books will no longer use the word "inmate" to describe people in prison as part of a measure signed Monday by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Use of the word "inmate" has come under criticism by advocates who have sought changes to New York's criminal justice system, arguing the term dehumanizes people. Laws in New York will now refer to people in prison as "incarcerated individuals."

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Uptick in crime helps kill 2 New York parole bills

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Two parole reform bills pushed by New York criminal justice advocates became victims of rising violent crime around the country.

Elder Parole (S.15A/A.8855A) and Fair and Timely Parole (S.7514/A.4231) both languished at the end of a legislative session marked by a fierce pushback by the public, Republicans and moderate Democrats who see the national rise in crime as a powerful counter-narrative to the push for social justice seen in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and many others.

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New York lawmakers, advocates hope for a final deal on 'Clean Slate' measure

BY Nick Reisman Albany

A measure that would seal criminal records for thousands of New Yorkers has the potential to be revived in the coming days after stalling for the last several years in Albany.

The bill, known as the Clean Slate Act, advanced out of a key committee in the state Senate on Tuesday afternoon. It's final fate, however, remains unclear as lawmakers plan to leave Albany by the end of the week for the rest of the year.

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New York criminal justice advocates push for 11th hour win on Clean Slate Bill

BY Tim Williams New York State

With the clock on the New York legislative session ticking, criminal justice reform advocates are hoping to secure an 11th hour win by passing the Clean Slate Bill, which would seal the criminal records of eligible New Yorkers. Garrett Smith, a statewide organizer at the Center for Community Alternatives, told Capital Tonight that a criminal record is a “scarlet letter” on the chest of New Yorkers hoping to access employment or housing.

The Clean Slate Bill, which is sponsored by state Sen. Zellnor Myrie (D-Brooklyn) and Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz (D-Queens), would automatically seal the criminal records of eligible New Yorkers seven years after sentencing for a felony and three years after the sentencing of a misdemeanor. Gov. Hochul included a clean slate proposal in her 2022 legislative agenda, but the bill hasn’t gotten over the finish line yet. Smith said there are disagreements on the timing of eligibility and argues that pushing the eligibility further back defeats the purpose of the clean slate legislation.

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Hochul calls for new age limit to purchase AR-15 style guns in New York

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday called for legislation that would raise the age of purchasing certain types of firearms from 18 to 21 in New York in the wake of mass shootings in Texas and Buffalo this month that have jolted the nation.

Hochul said “at minimum” she wants the law to limit the purchase of AR-15-style weapons for those under age 21.

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Hochul's proposals to tackle violent extremism face challenges

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Finding ways of responding to the Buffalo mass shooting that left 10 people dead presents no easy solution, and for those tackling extremism online is a confluence of trends over the last several years.

The shooting has drawn in the rise and spread of violent hate speech over the internet and the access to guns despite stringent firearms laws in New York.

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Top Republican leaders in New York seek death penalty return

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Top Republican lawmakers in the state Legislature are calling for a return to the death penalty in New York, reviving a debate over how to punish especially heinous crimes.

But in the years since the issue last resonated with voters in 1994, when Republican George Pataki swept into office when he ran on the issue that year, it's not clear if voters, or even if all Republicans would embrace the move.

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Lawmakers weigh how to handle wrongful convictions in New York

BY Nick Reisman Albany

State lawmakers on Tuesday advanced measures meant to aid people who have been wrongfully convicted in court as well as measures meant to aid immigrant New Yorkers in the legal system.

The measures are being pushed at the end of the legislative session as New York lawmakers consider a potential package of criminal justice law changes in the coming weeks.

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New York Legislature expects to pass Clean Slate Act before session ends​

BY Kate Lisa New York State

Legislative sources say New York lawmakers plan to pass the Clean Slate Act before session ends June 2 that would seal New Yorkers' criminal records after a set period following their sentencing.

Lawmakers expect to pass a version close to the Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Zellnor Myrie, a Democrat from Brooklyn, that would automatically seal the criminal records of New Yorkers three years after sentencing for a misdemeanor offense and seven years for a felony.

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Microsoft joins campaign for New York criminal records sealing bill

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Microsoft Corp. on Thursday became the latest company to join a coalition of private-sector firms, labor unions and criminal justice advocates to back a measure that would seal many criminal records in New York.

The company's participation in the Clean Slate Coalition comes as the measure continues to face an uncertain future in the state Legislature after lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul could not reach an agreement on it in the state budget negotiations last month.

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New York prosecutors say public safety discussions should not end with budget

BY Nick Reisman Albany

As the negotiators ground on between lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul over the contentious debate surrounding New York's bail law, local prosecutors were brought in to discuss their concerns.

And now with those changes to the bail laws on the books, some prosecutors hope further efforts to address public safety will be made.

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Hochul on changing New York bail law: 'We had to do something' to address rising crime

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Changes to New York's 2019 law that ended cash bail requirements for many criminal charges and other efforts to address public safety were needed in response to increasing crime, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday said.

But Hochul, fresh off the completion of her first spending plan, said the initial bail law should not be blamed for the rise in violent crime in New York, which has also been on the rise in other parts of the country.

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Bill sealing criminal records in New York fails in budget talks

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Supporters of a measure that would seal criminal records years after a person has completed their debt to society are planning to continue to press for the provision's approval in New York after it fell out of the state budget talks.

Those supporters range from criminal justice reform organizations, labor unions, business leaders and Gov. Kathy Hochul herself, who had backed a version of what's known as the "clean slate" bill in the budget plan.

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NY Sen. Gianaris: Discovery reform 'settled,' criminal justice issues 'buttoned up' in state budget

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

New York Deputy Senate Majority Leader Michael Gianaris told Capital Tonight that state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul have made significant progress on the state’s late budget “in just the last couple of days” in spite of efforts to insert what he called “non-budget issues” like alcohol to-go and the reform of 421a into the spending plan.

“It seems like we’re finally clearing our way through all that and now getting to the dollars and cents, which is what the budget is really about,” Gianaris said. “And hopefully wrapping it up in the next couple of days."

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New York lawmakers set to expand bail-eligible circumstances in state budget

BY Nick Reisman Albany

New York state lawmakers are closing in on an agreement that could expand the circumstances in which cash bail would be required to include charges like gun trafficking as well as alleged repeat offenses, a top Democrat in the state Senate on Tuesday said.

The development comes as lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul are close to putting the finishing touches on a broader state budget agreement, which had been expected to pass on Friday.

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House Republicans call to 'completely reverse' bail law

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Republican lawmakers who represent New York in the House of Representatives urged state officials to "completely reverse" the 2019 law that ended cash bail requirements for many criminal charges in a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul, pointing to a rise in violent crime.

The letter signed by the eight Republicans who represent New York in Congress, including candidate for governor Lee Zeldin, was sent as Democratic lawmakers and the governor negotiate potential changes that could expand the criteria for when cash bail could be set.

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Defenders of New York's bail law say debate won't end with state budget

BY Nick Reisman Albany

The debate over New York's bail laws and how the criminal justice system should treat people accused of crimes will likely continue after the state budget is finalized, advocates on Friday said.

Rank-and-file state lawmakers were gone from the state Capitol on Friday, but a small group of advocates who oppose any changes to New York's 2019 cashless bail law rallied once again in the otherwise empty building.

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NYCLU pushes preferred 'clean slate' bill

BY Nick Reisman Albany

The New York Civil Liberties Union wants a faster way of sealing many criminal records in the state as part of a final budget deal.

The conversations over the proposal surrounding the "Clean Slate" Act are being held as lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul are considering a broad package of criminal justice law changes addressing concerns over cashless bail, evidence discovery procedures and access to tuition assistance for people in prison.

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TAP access for people in prison gains more backing

BY Nick Reisman Albany

A proposal to allow people in prison to access state tuition assistance has gained the backing of the League of Women Voters as state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul debate whether to include the provision in a final budget agreement.

The move, proposed earlier this year by Gov. Hochul in her budget plan, would restore access to state tuition assistance after both Pell grants and money under the Tuition Assistance Program were blocked for people in prison in 1994 and 1995.

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NY Sen. Rivera disappointed by Hochul's push for bail law changes in state budget talks

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

With the New York state budget due on Friday, there are plenty of issues in flux, from funding for universal child care to a pay raise for home care workers. But according to the chairman of the state Senate Health Committee, Sen. Gustavo Rivera, it’s been difficult finding traction on these issues because the focus in Albany has been on bail reform.

“It’s unfortunate that so much oxygen has been taken out of the room because of the whole bail reform conversation,” Rivera told Capital Tonight. “As it relates to bail reform, I will say that I’m very disappointed that the governor came in at what is basically the 11th hour and injected something into the budget conversation that I don’t think belongs in the budget conversation.”

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New York corrections officials: 8,000 people on parole to be released under 'less is more'

BY Nick Reisman Albany

An estimated 8,000 people on parole will be discharged from the supervision of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision by the end of month as part of the Less is More law approved last September by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Corrections officials announced the releases come as part of effort to apply the "spirit of the law" for technical warrants and absconder dispositions to qualified parole violators. The measure is meant to reduce the number of people in prison and jails as well as supervision through a credit system.

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Hochul: 'There's urgency' for public safety, criminal justice measures in New York state budget deal

BY Nick Reisman Albany

A New York state budget agreement could include a range of criminal justice and public safety law changes, making for a sweeping compromise amid ongoing concerns over crime.

At least that's what has happened in the past, when disparate issues are knit together in a final budget deal that make it hard for lawmakers who have some misgivings to vote against it. On Friday, Gov. Kathy Hochul told reporters there's a desire to use the budget as a "vehicle" for a number of changes.

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Advocates press New York officials to not make criminal justice changes

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Progressive organizations and criminal justice advocacy groups are moving to counteract a push in Albany to make changes to New York's recent package of changes to the state's bail and evidence discovery laws, as well as how juveniles are treated in the court system.

The latest efforts comes from more than 70 national and state organizations pushing back against proposed changes. Backers of the effort range from Jay-Z to the Center for American Progress, ACLU, Indivisible, the Working Families Party, National Domestic Workers Alliance and MoveOn.

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Albany County DA David Soares on cannabis, cash bail and Cuomo

BY Tim Williams New York State

Earlier this month, the state Office of Cannabis Management announced that the first licenses for cannabis retailers will go to applicants who have connections to a cannabis-related conviction and a small business background. This is all a part of an effort to support communities that have been negatively impacted by the war on drugs. But the proposal is not getting widespread support.

Albany County District Attorney David Soares, a Democrat, has some concerns about who will get these licenses.

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Hochul outlines proposals to change New York bail law amid budget talks

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Changes to New York's law that ended cash bail requirements for many criminal charges can be changed to bolster public safety while also keeping the criminal justice system fair, Gov. Kathy Hochul wrote in an op/ed released on Wednesday.

At the same time, top lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly signaled their Democratic-led chambers would be willing to consider some changes to the law, but insisted they did not want to a full scaling back of the law meant to keep poor people and people of color from waiting lengthy periods of time in local jails.

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District attorneys back extending tuition assistance to people in prison

BY Nick Reisman Albany

The statewide organization that represents local district attorneys in New York is backing a measure to extend the Tuition Assistance Program to people in prison.

Support from the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York comes as lawmakers and Hochul are considering a range of criminal justice and public safety measures this week as part of the broader budget negotiations.

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Proposals to overhaul New York bail law yet to gain traction

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Making changes to New York's bail law is proving to be an increasingly difficult knot to untie in the state Legislature, where top Democrats are yet to embrace any proposals that Gov. Kathy Hochul wants included in the state budget.

The changes to the law that largely ended cash bail requirements for many criminal charges come as elected officials are trying to address increasing voter concerns over a rise in violent crime across the state.

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Progressive advocacy group launches ad campaign against New York bail law changes

BY Nick Reisman Albany

A progressive advocacy organization on Tuesday announced plans to launch a six-figure ad campaign to oppose changes to New York's law that largely ended cash bail requirements for many criminal charges.

The push from the group FWD.us comes as state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul are discussing potential changes to the law, which has been at the epicenter of a broader debate over public safety in New York.

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Bail debate scrambles New York state budget talks

BY Nick Reisman Albany

A leak of proposed changes to New York's controversial law that largely ended cash bail requirements for many criminal charges is raining on the budget parade at the state Capitol.

With roughly a week and a half to go before the budget deal, last week's disclosure that Gov. Kathy Hochul is trying to negotiate changes to the law have set up a difficult needle for her to thread: Progressives don't want to do it; suburban and upstate Democrats feel like they must.

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New York's district attorneys on Hochul's criminal justice reforms

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Last week, The New York Post published a confidential 10-point plan from the office of Gov. Kathy Hochul that would modify the state’s bail law and expand the mental health statute known as Kendra’s law. Hochul has since confirmed that the plan is indeed hers.

Among other measures, Hochul’s proposal would give judges more discretion over whether to set bail for defendants who are repeat offenders, or who have a history of criminal activity.

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NYCLU: Hochul’s reforms to bail law 'a matter of politics, politics, politics'

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

After months of not engaging on the issue of bail reform, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has reportedly decided that the state’s controversial law, originally passed in 2019, needs to be reformed for a second time.

In a memo whose existence was originally reported by The New York Post, Hochul makes clear she wants lawmakers to reinstate judicial discretion for serial offenders they feel are a danger to the community.

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New York lawmakers want to address public safety in budget, but bail law unlikely to be changed

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Democrats in the New York state Legislature want to address a range of public safety and criminal justice measures in the budget, including efforts to crack down on illegal gun trafficking and funding discovery law changes for local prosecutors.

Making changes to New York's law that largely ended cash bail requirements for many criminal charges is unlikely to be addressed in the spending plan that's due to pass by the end of the month.

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As bail debate continues, some New York lawmakers look for compromise

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Boosting funding for supervised released and expanding the collection of bail request data are two proposals backed by former New York state Assemblyman Joe Lentol in an op/ed this week. At the same time, Lentol argues judges should be able to set bail if a defendant has multiple misdemeanor cases that are still pending.

The contentious debate over New York's cashless bail could have a compromise in Lentol's proposal. But it's not clear if all lawmakers can embrace it.

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Prosecutors: Money needed to enact criminal justice changes

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Changes to New York's criminal justice laws and police procedures are designed to lead to more accountability, and fewer people languishing in jails, but local-level prosecutors are increasingly concerned the changes are not being fully funded by state officials to be effective.

The organization that represents district attorneys urged lawmakers on Tuesday to provide more funding in the state budget so local prosecutors can better process the changes enacted in recent years meant to provide access to evidence on an expedited basis.

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To fix Rikers, advocate wants Legislature to fund the judiciary, accelerate ‘Less is More’ Act

BY Susan Arbetter New York State
UPDATED 6:37 PM ET Oct. 14, 2021

For years, there have been horror stories about Rikers Island, New York City’s main jail complex, which sits on a piece land in the East River. But according to news reports and anecdotal stories, it appears the situation has deteriorated.

A New York Times expose released on Monday describes dozens of instances in which detainees have wandered freely, pepper sprayed guards and one incident in which a detainee attacked a nurse.

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Bill would eliminate court, parole and probation fees

BY Tim Williams New York State

For every conviction in New York, from traffic tickets to felonies, a mandatory surcharge or fee is added, which reform advocates say “criminalizes poverty."

The fines and fees are used by the courts to pay DNA databank fees, crime victim assistance fees, probation fees sex offender registration fees and mandatory court surcharges.

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Cuomo signs bill striking 'inmate' from New York law

BY Nick Reisman Albany

People in prison in New York will no longer be referred to as "inmates" in state law under a measure approved Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The bill approved by the governor addresses what has been a growing concern for criminal justice advocates in the state: The use of the word "inmate" can have a dehumanizing effect for the people incarcerated.

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Lawmakers reach apparent deal on parole reform bill

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Democrats in the state Legislature on Tuesday have reached an apparent agreement on a bill that would reform New York's parole system that would expedite being discharged from the parole system and setting a new standard for when an arrest warrant is issued for a parole violation.

The "Less is More Act" is among a package of parole law changes state lawmakers are considering in the final week of the legislative session. An amended version of the bill was introduced this morning, enabled lawmakers to vote on it by the time the legislative session concludes on Thursday.

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Campaign for parole law changes in New York gains steam

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Criminal justice reform advocates on Monday are set to release a video pushing for the passage of a measure to overhaul the parole laws in New York with an eye toward making it easier for people to remain out of jail or prison once released.

The measure is meant to reduce prison time for technical violations. The bill's backers point to incentives for good behavior while on parole as a public safety benefit.

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Lawmakers Want to Boost Penalties for Drive-By Shootings

BY Nick Reisman New York State

State lawmakers are pushing a bill that is meant to increase penalties in drive-by shooting cases, a measure spurred by the murder of an 11-year-old boy in the Capital Region earlier this month.

As proposed by Republican Sen. Daphne Jordan and Democratic Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, the bill would change the state's criminal law to create the crime of a "drive by shooting" as defined by a person causing the death of another person by discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle.

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