State lawmakers want a report on how diverse New York's judiciary actually is, introducing a bill Monday that would lead to the compiling and publishing of an annual report on the issue.
The measure, backed by Sens. Brad Hoylman and Luis Sepulveda, would require the Office of Court Administration to compile the demographic information on the state's judges and justices.
“It’s a detriment to our judicial system that there are parts of the state where there are virtually no judges of color and few women on the bench," Hoylman said.
Lawmakers said the move would help build diversity in the judiciary and build confidence in the justice system in the process. The report would compile demographic information including race/ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, and disability status of those on the bench.
“To be truly just, our judicial system must include the voices and perspectives of all communities it affects," Sepulveda said. "For too long, New York State’s broad diversity has not been reflected in its judiciary, perpetuating systems of inequality and marginalization."
The proposal comes amid the legislature's ongoing push to overhaul New York's criminal justice system and as some lawmakers have called for a component to the new law ending cash bail for misdemeanor and non-violent felony charges that allows judges to have some degree of discretion over whether a person is too dangerous to be released.
Supporters of the law contend the move would disproportionately and negatively affect defendants of color.