more

Issues: Criminal Justice Reform

Back to Issues


Bail Abolition: Abolish bail for misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies.

Speedy Trial: Pass "Kalief's Law" to eliminate unjustified trial delays. It will allow judges to set the "trial clock" deadlines by which prosecutors have to bring cases to trial. The law is named after Kalief Browder, who as a 16-year-old was arrested in New York City for allegedly stealing a backpack and sent to Rikers Island, where he was held for three years — two of them in solitary confinement — without a trial before the charges were dropped for lack of evidence. Traumatized by his experience, Kalief committed suicide a few years after release at age 22.

Open File Discovery: Make prosecutors' files open to defendants, with exceptions only when a judge rules turning over certain evidence might endanger a witness.

Statewide Public Defenders Office: Full funding for a statewide public defenders office, administered by an independent public defense commission, to guarantee the right to quality counsel.

Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform: No asset forfeitures without proceedings after a conviction is obtained.

Safe Parole Act: Shift the focus from punishment to incentives that help parolees reintegrate into society by establishing a transparent and accountable parole system that enables inmates to earn parole by successfully completing rehabilitative and educational programs.

Educational Opportunities for All Prisoners: Provide educational opportunities for all incarcerated individuals, from basic literacy and numeracy to GED to college courses and vocational courses. Re-establish Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) eligibility for prisoners and include prisoners in free tuition at SUNY, CUNY, and community colleges.

Child Victims Act: Enact this extension of the statute of limitations to age 50 in civil cases and to age 28 in criminal cases for survivors of child sexual abuse.

Ban Solitary Confinement: Enact the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement bill to establish residential rehabilitation units (RRUs) as an alternative to isolated confinement. Provide programs, therapy, and support to address underlying needs and causes of behavior, with 6 hours per day of out-of-cell programming plus one hour of out-of-cell recreation.Enhance due process protections before placement in RRUs, create a clear process for release from RRUs, and mandate greater training for correctional officers working in RRUs or adjudicating disciplinary hearings.

Ban the Box: End the practice of employers and public colleges such as SUNY using criminal history on initial applications, which automatically disqualifies applicants who are fully qualified. The right to know an applicant's criminal history would be deferred until a conditional offer of employment or enrollment is made.

Voting Rights for Felons: End the loss of voting rights for felons and parolees and make participation in civic affairs can part of rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

Right to a Trial by a Jury of Peers: Change state law so that defendants in cities have the same right as defendants in towns to a jury of their peers from the same municipal jurisdiction.

Ban Warrantless Drone Surveillance: Prohibit warrantless drone surveillance in New York airspace that violates our Fourth Amendment rights to privacy and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Alternatives to Incarceration: Probation or work release for paying fines, victim restitution, and community service. Work release and education release for prisoners preparing for re-entry into society.

Ready for the next step?

Sign up for our newsletter

- or -

Volunteer Donate