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.
The Council on Community Justice is being launched after a legislative session in which state lawmakers and the governor once again agreed to changing the controversial bail law that limits cash bail requirements for many criminal charges. Later, lawmakers approved a measure that would seal more than 2 million criminal records in New York, a measure Hochul is yet to sign, but is expected to do so.
Criminal justice policy has been a politically potent issue for Republicans, who were able to flip multiple Democratic-held offices last year and came close to unseating Hochul as the party campaigned on a public safety platform.
"This advisory council will help identify issues within our criminal justice system and recommend solutions with the goal of ensuring that programs and services are evidence-based, effective and provide justice-involved individuals with the help they need to thrive," Hochul said. "I commend these professionals for stepping up to serve their community and look forward to working with them."
Voters have continued to point to crime as a key concern for them. A Siena College survey of New Yorkers this month found more than half of the state's residents polled worry they will be a victim of crime.
Still, changes to the state's criminal justice system, long known for the since-repealed drug laws approved under Nelson Rockefeller, have been popular with progressives in New York who insist the changes are necessary to create a fairer system.
"This is the work of making our communities stronger, fairer, and safer," Delgado said. "This is the work of making our communities whole. I am honored to chair this council, as we work to develop strategies, policies, and practices that will set our justice system on the right path for generations to come."