MOCJ in the News

To Shrink Jail Population, a Bail Program Is Expanding
New York Times
August 29th, 2017
Judges citywide set bail in roughly 45,000 cases each year, and only 12 percent of defendants can pay in time to be released from court. Another 46 percent end up going to jail for up to a week because they cannot pay in the narrow window of time between their arraignment and when the next bus leaves.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has made accelerating bail payment part of his plan to cut the city's jail population in half and close the Rikers Island complex. The city is financing a $478,800 expansion of the program, called Bail Expediting Program, and more people will be eligible for the program.


De Blasio to Unveil Plan for Rikers While Warning It 'Will Not Be Easy'
New York Times
June 22, 2017

Closing New York City's troubled jail complex on Rikers Island will take at least a decade and will require a big decline in the inmate population, a continued drop in the city's already low crime rates, a wellspring of funding and political capital, according to a strikingly blunt proposal that Mayor Bill de Blasio intends to unveil on Thursday.


Get Juveniles Out of Rikers Island
New York Times (Editorial Board)
July 22, 2016

New York City has developed a plan to move adolescents out of the notorious Rikers Island jail complex to a jail in the Bronx dedicated exclusively to 16- and 17-year-olds. This is an excellent and long-overdue idea that would do much to humanize the way the correctional system treats juveniles.


New York City Wants to Move 16- and 17-Year-Olds From Rikers Jail to Bronx Center
New York Times
July 21, 2016
Under intense pressure to improve conditions in the jail complex on Rikers Island, the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio has developed a plan to move 16- and 17-year-olds to a dedicated jail for youths in the Bronx.


New York City Plans to Move Adolescents Out of Rikers Island
Wall Street Journal
July 21, 2016
New York City plans to move adolescents out of its Rikers Island jail complex and instead house them at a detention center in the South Bronx, city officials said Thursday. Under the new plan, 16- and 17-year-olds would be housed at the Horizon Juvenile Center, an existing detention facility in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx that is currently used by the Administration for Children's Services.


Some Rikers Teens Could be Moved to Bronx Detention Center
WNYC
July 21, 2016
The city is moving forward with plans to transfer 16-and 17-year-old inmates off Rikers Island and into a juvenile detention center in the Bronx. The facility, known as Horizon, currently holds younger adolescents considered juvenile delinquents by the family court system. The plan would move those younger teens into a juvenile facility in Brooklyn. Both detention centers would need to be renovated at a cost of roughly $300 million.


City Hall funds programs to improve district attorney operations
Politico New York
June 17, 2016

The new city budget gave the city's five district attorneys $22 million in funding to support new programs and improve their functionality. More than half the funding, almost $11.6 million, is going to the Bronx, where DA Darcel Clark's office plans on a host of changes, including the creation of a Rikers Island bureau.


NYCHA will add hundreds of new lights at 15 public housing buildings to reduce crime
New York Daily News
June 15, 2016
Here's one way to combat crime in public housing – shine a light on it. Fifteen NYCHA developments are getting hundreds of new lights to illuminate high-traffic areas to try and reduce crime. Even as the city boasts about a drop in the numbers, public housing residents are dealing with an increase in violence. The new lights will be permanent fixtures in the problem-plagued developments, which account for nearly 20% of all violent crime in public housing.


New NYC Law Lowers Penalties for Minor Offenses
Wall Street Journal
June 13, 2016
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday signed a package of eight bills that reduce penalties for littering, public urination and other minor offenses. The legislation, known as the Criminal Justice Reform Act, was pushed by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and other lawmakers as a way to prevent nonviolent offenders from entering the criminal justice system.


ATMs Come to Courthouses to Help Defendants Make Bail
Wall Street Journal
May 12, 2016

ATMs are coming to criminal courthouses in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx as soon as next week to solve a basic problem–access to cash to pay bail. Defendants who can't immediately post bail are typically sent to the Rikers Island jail complex to await trial. But currently only the courthouses in Manhattan and Staten Island have ATMs, officials said.


City Takes a Chance on Non-Violent Defendants Struggling to Make Bail
WNYC
April 8, 2016
During an arraignment, a judge typically either sets bail or releases someone with the understanding they will return to court on their own. Supervised release allows for another option – a defendant gets released, but only if they agree to regular check-ins with a caseworker who will be monitoring them until their case is resolved.


Text messages will remind New Yorkers charged with minor crimes of their court appearances
New York Daily News
April 4, 2016

New Yorkers charged with minor crimes will soon be getting text messages to remind them of court appearances to reduce the dismal rate of no-shows. The de Blasio administration and the state court system are aiming to ease a backlog of criminal cases in the courts and cut down on the number of people slapped with arrest warrants when they fail to appear. Last year, nearly 40% of people issued a summons didn't appear, and 135,143 warrants were issued. Cops started giving out new summons forms at the beginning of March. When people who got the new form are due in court – starting around the second week of April – they'll get text messages reminding them to show up.


Bill de Blasio's very bright idea: In praise of the mayor's new NYCHA lighting plans
New York Daily News
March 16, 2016
Some good news: After a successful early pilot program, Mayor de Blasio is setting out to learn if better lighting in the city's public housing reduces crime. This next phase isn't just good for New York City Housing Authority residents and visitors. It shows how using data to drive city policy can work. Friday, de Blasio and NYCHA announced that they would test investments in NYCHA properties intended to curb criminal activity and scale up the most effective programs.


Close Rikers Island? It Will Take Years, Billions and Political Capital
New York Times
March 2, 2016

In recent weeks, the idea of closing Rikers Island, the sprawling jail complex in the middle of the East River, has once again become a central topic of public discourse, with both Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the Council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, arguing that it is the surest way to put an end to the brutality and dysfunction inside city jails. Supporters of the plan envision whittling down the city's inmate population, already at historical lows, and then dispersing the inmates still incarcerated, including those charged with the most serious crimes, to a constellation of modern neighborhood jails in easy proximity to families, lawyers and courthouses. But can it actually be done this time? Skeptics, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, argue that while the idea is a noble one, in practice it is highly unlikely to be realized: to succeed would require years if not decades, billions of dollars and enormous political capital, while distracting from efforts to address immediate problems facing the jails.

Editorial: New York City's Promising Step on Criminal Justice
New York Times
January 25, 2016
The New York City Council is poised to take what could be a step toward a fairer and smarter criminal justice system. A package of bills to be introduced on Monday seeks to resolve an old impasse over how to deter minor lawbreaking without punishing too many people unjustly. The bills focus on so-called quality of life offenses – things like littering, urinating and drinking alcohol in public, being too noisy and violating park rules.


Misdemeanor Bills Gather Support
Wall Street Journal
January 25, 2016
New York City Council legislation that would reduce penalties for violations such as urinating in public and littering appeared on Monday to have the initial support of Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York Police Department. The bills would allow police officers to issue civil tickets instead of criminal summonses for low-level offenses. De Blasio administration officials said the shift would spare thousands of nonviolent, minor offenders from jail time, making the city's criminal-justice system fairer, particularly for black and Latino men.


Easing Up on Low-Level Crimes
WNYC
January 22, 2016
The New York City Council will hear a package of bills Monday that would make summonses for low-level crimes civil - rather than criminal - offenses. This would give officers the option to charge a person civilly rather than criminally for things like public urination, drinking from an open container in public, and excessive noise. It would not include jumping subway turnstiles.


New York City Is Set to Adopt New Approach on Policing Minor Offenses
New York Times
January 20, 2016
New York City is poised to reshape how it treats many so-called quality-of-life offenses, softening its stance toward low-level infractions like public urination and drinking alcohol in public by steering those cases away from the criminal court system. A package of eight bills to be introduced in the City Council on Monday would reduce the impact of the style of policing known as broken windows that has for two decades guided the Police Department to see minor disorder as a precursor to major crime, often alienating residents in the process.


Editorial: A Smarter Way to Get Guns Off the Street
New York Times
January 13, 2016
Mr. de Blasio announced on Tuesday two encouraging new approaches in pursuit of a safer city: the creation of a specialized court in Brooklyn to handle gun-possession cases, and a “Gun Violence Suppression Division,” of 200 police officers, mostly detectives, to handle illegal-gun cases and nothing else.


NYC takes aim at gun violence through new system, including specialized 'gun court' in Brooklyn
New York Daily News
January 12, 2016
The city is taking aim at gun violence through a new system to deal entirely with weapons cases – including a specialized “gun court” in Brooklyn. The plan, dubbed “Project Fast Track,” also includes a new 200-officer NYPD division that will solely handle gun crimes and dedicated judges whose focus will be on gun cases.


De Blasio to Announce New System Dedicated to Addressing Gun Crime in New York City
New York Times
January 12, 2016
Seeking to quell stubbornly persistent gun-related violence in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday will unveil a new system for handling such cases, creating a dedicated gun court in Brooklyn and a 200-officer police division focused on gun crime.


Making public housing safer
New York Daily News
November 8, 2015
We know that various types of distress – from joblessness to crime to poor health outcomes – tend to be aggregated in the same places. Recognizing this, the de Blasio administration is working to comprehensively strengthen neighborhoods in and around 15 New York City Housing Authority developments that have experienced some of the highest crime rates in the city. Not only have we deployed more police, but we have kept community centers open late, employed thousands of young people, and installed lights and other security infrastructure.


New York City's Big Idea on Bail
The Marshall Project
October 15, 2015

Last month in Brooklyn, a homeless teenager was arrested for jumping a turnstile. He had been arrested a few times before, so the judge set bail at $250. The teenager could not pay it. He was sent to Rikers Island jail to wait for trial. He was there for about two weeks. We hear stories like this with unacceptable regularity.

NYC looks to improve bail system
Associated Press
October 13, 2015

In the absence of statewide bail reform laws, New York City officials are looking for practical fixes they can put in place now to help the 50,000 people sent to jail every year because they can't afford bail money. Among the changes announced Tuesday: streamlining the current 65-page form authorizing credit-card bail and better coordinating the bus schedule from courthouses to Rikers Island jail so defendants have more time to post bail.

City Launches Bail Reform 'Lab' Site
NY1 News
October 13, 2015

In an effort to reduce the reliance on bail, the de Blasio administration is launching a study to overhaul the system. As first reported on NY1, City Hall is launching a program called "Bail Lab" aimed at developing solutions to tackle bail reform within the next month. Experts, advocates and members of the de Blasio administration will examine the kind of data judges need to make the right decisions.

De Blasio eyes 'safer and fairer' initiative to replace NYC's cash-based bail system

New York Daily News
October 13, 2015
As part of his efforts to reform the city's bail system, Mayor de Blasio on Tuesday announced an initiative that could replace the cash-based method in favor of reminders to get people to show up for court. The city, in partnership with courts and an advisory group that includes state Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, will begin conducting experiments to determine other ways besides bail payments to get people to return to court when accused of a crime.

Mayor's plan draws cautious praise from homeless advocates
Politico New York
August 7, 2015
Mayor Bill de Blasio's new $22.4 million plan to serve the violent and severely mentally ill, some of them homeless, drew a tentatively positive response from homeless advocates hoping the city would offer more detailed plans and funds for housing. "We're at a point where the numbers are out of control," Jennifer Flynn of VOCAL NY said, in an interview.

New York City Initiative Aims to Help Mentally Ill People Who Get Violent
The New York Times
August 6, 2015

The mayor said the goal of NYC Safe, a $22 million mental health initiative, was to aggressively reach mentally ill people prone to hurting themselves or others. Various agencies, including the Department of Homeless Services and the New York Police Department, will share information with one another about those people to make sure they are being treated, city officials said. About $5 million of the funding will go toward increasing security around and inside some homeless shelters.

NYC rolls out plan to aid mentally ill who could be violent
CBS/Associated Press
August 6, 2015

Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration on Thursday unveiled a plan to help New Yorkers suffering from mental illness and who may be a threat to hurt themselves or others. The program, dubbed NYC Safe, is also an early move to combat increasingly visible homelessness in New York City, an issue that the mayor has said is linked to a lack of adequate care for people with mental illness.

NYC school discipline panel says suspensions, arrests down
Associated Press
July 23, 2015
A panel examining safety in New York City schools said Thursday that overly punitive discipline is down under Mayor Bill de Blasio and recommended teacher training and other measures to continue that trend. Critics of the zero-tolerance school discipline policies of past administrations have charged that suspensions for minor offenses, such as talking back to a teacher, can send students on a path toward dropping out.


City task force recommends new ways to reduce school suspensions
Chalkbeat
July 23, 2015
A fraction of schools accounts for an outsize portion of serious school punishments, according to a new report that recommends ways the city can combat that and other disparities in the way students are disciplined. Although the number of suspensions and arrests in city schools continues to shrink, a tenth of the city's schools administer 41 percent of all suspensions, and nearly half of all tickets were issued in 10 school buildings, the report said.


De Blasio Panel Offers Blueprint for School Discipline Reforms
WNYC
July 23, 2015
The Mayor's Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline said in its report that the city should focus on the relatively few schools that see the most arrests and suspensions, adding social workers and re-training school leaders to resolve conflicts differently. It also said educators and police need to reduce disparities in who's disciplined.

New York City To End Cash Bail For Low-Level Defendants
NPR
July 9, 2015
The $18 million initiative allows judges to release suspects into court supervision, instead of requiring cash bail. That could keep many pretrial defendants out of the troubled Rikers Island jail.


NYC Sets Bail at $0 for Non-Violent Suspects
WNYC
July 9, 2015
Elizabeth Glazer, director of the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, discusses the de Blasio administration's $17.8 million initiative to supervise non-violent defendants in their communities instead of detaining them in jail if they can't afford bail while they await trial.


Stung by Abuses at Rikers, New York City Acts on Bail Reform
The Marshall Project
July 8, 2015
The office of Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York on Wednesday unveiled a $17.8 million plan to reduce reliance on the bail system by expanding a program that keeps nonviolent and low-level offenders out of jail while they await trial. The program would more than triple the number of defendants in pretrial supervision, rather than have them languish at the city's main jail at Rikers Island. An impetus for the change, city officials said, was the recent suicide of Kalief Browder, who was held at Rikers for three years and released at age 19, when prosecutors dropped charges.


New York City to Relax Bail Requirements for Low-Level Offenders
The New York Times
July 8, 2015

New York City officials announced a plan on Wednesday to change bail requirements for some low-level offenders in an effort to keep thousands of people accused of nonviolent crimes and misdemeanors out of the troubled Rikers Island jail complex. The program, which is expected to cost nearly $18 million, will allow judges to release up to 3,000 low-risk defendants while placing them under court supervision as they await trial. Supporters of the program hope the initiative will help defendants who otherwise would remain jailed because they cannot afford bail.


No-Bail Programs Aim To Relieve Jail Overcrowding
The Wall Street Journal
July 8, 2015
Thousands of people awaiting trial in New York City for low-level offenses will be assigned to community supervision programs, part of a national trend to free up space in overcrowded jails by releasing nonviolent individuals who can't afford to post bail...At least 33 states and the District of Columbia have at least one pretrial release program that supervises defendants in lieu of holding them in jails, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.


$18m plan to replace bail aims to keep defendants at liberty until proven guilty
The Guardian
July 8, 2015
Thousands of New Yorkers accused of low-level or non-violent crimes will not face the prospect of raising cash for bail under a plan that seeks to keep such suspects out of the troubled Rikers Island jail complex. The $18m city plan, detailed ahead of the announcement on Wednesday, allows judges beginning next year to replace bail for low-risk defendants with supervision options including daily check-ins, text-message reminders and connecting them with drug or behavioral therapy.


New York City Courts Resolve 42% of Long-Term Cases at Rikers Island
The Wall Street Journal
June 17, 2015
In the past two months, New York City's courts have resolved 42% of more than 1,400 criminal cases involving defendants who had been at the Rikers Island jail complex for more than a year, figures released Wednesday showed. The courts launched an effort in April to reduce a backlog of pending cases that keeps thousands of people detained for months or years–often because they can't make bail–while they await trial or a resolution of their case.


NYC Tackles Its 'Warehouse' Jail System
WNYC
May 27, 2015
Elizabeth Glazer, director of the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, and Laurie R. Garduque, director of Justice Reform at the MacArthur Foundation, discuss the Safety and Justice Challenge: an initiative that New York City is taking part in with the MacArthur Foundation, as one of 20 winners chosen from nearly 200 applicants that will receive grants aimed at reducing local jail populations, and improve the way their local criminal justice systems function.


Collaboration Seeks to Trim Backlog, City Jail Population
The New York Law Journal
April 15, 2015
A coordinated effort to reduce court backlogs and trim the population of city jails was announced Tuesday by New York City and state courts. Officials said Rikers Island inmates whose cases have been pending for more than a year will have their cases calendared in the next 45 days to determine if there can be a disposition by plea and, if not, to set a firm trial date.


New York City, Courts Making Summonses Harder to Ignore
The New York Law Journal
April 15, 2015
New York City and state court administrators want to make it more difficult to ignore court summonses that are issued in the five boroughs. Every year, about 40 percent of the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers receiving familiar pink tickets for low-level offenses–such as drinking and urinating in public, littering and riding a bike on the sidewalk–ignore, forget or otherwise miss their appointed court dates, resulting in arrest warrants and even jail time.
New York City Makes Changes to Summons Court

The Wall Street Journal
April 14, 2015
City and state officials on Tuesday announced measures to address New York City's overwhelmed summons-courts system and ease a backlog of criminal cases that keep thousands of people jailed for months on end while they await trial or resolution of their charges. Changes to the city's summons courts will include a redesign of the paper summons form police hand to people accused of violations, a new reminder system to get defendants to make their court appearances, online-payment options and more flexible appearance dates and times, according to officials from City Hall and the state court system.
New York City Plans to Transform Summons Process

The New York Times
April 14, 2015
When New York City announced in November that it would start issuing tickets instead of making arrests for possession of small quantities of marijuana, the state's judges were alarmed. Already overburdened and mired in time-consuming bureaucracy, summons courts faced the prospect of having to process tens of thousands of additional tickets each year. That change spurred plans, unveiled on Tuesday, to transform the city's summons process in the hopes of making it more efficient for judges, lawyers and the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers charged with low-level violations each year.
New York Mayor Announces Plan To Reduce Rikers Island Jail Population

NPR
April 14, 2015
New York City's mayor and the state's chief judge announced a plan Tuesday to cut the number of pre-trial detainees at the notorious Rikers Island jail. It's not unusual for defendants to spend a year or more at Rikers awaiting trial.
The City's Plan to Shrink the Rikers Island Population

WNYC
April 14, 2015
Elizabeth Glazer, director of the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice and co-chair of the new task force, talks about a series of reforms to move along court system backlog to reduce the number of people on Rikers Island by 25% in the next ten years. Other reforms involve easing the burden of low-level summonses on the city's already overloaded justice system.
Kalief Browder and a Change at Rikers

The New Yorker
April 14, 2015
There is never a guarantee that anything will change, and often nothing does. This morning, however, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the state's top judge, Jonathan Lippman, will announce a plan to speed up the city's courts, so that fewer people will remain in jail without trial for as long as Kalief did.
New Justice Reboot plan will cut number of city inmates by 25% over next 10 years, reduce court backlog

New York Daily News
April 14, 2015
The number of city inmates will drop by 25% over the next 10 years under a new broad plan to clear hundreds of languishing criminal cases, city and state officials announced Tuesday. There are currently 400 people behind bars for more than two years without being convicted of a crime, according to court records. There are also six people who have been waiting for their cases to be adjudicated for more than six years.
New Plan to Shrink Rikers Island Population: Tackle Court Delays

The New York Times
April 13, 2015
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York and the state's chief judge will introduce a plan on Tuesday to gradually reduce the inmate population at Rikers by clearing the backlogs at state courts, a pocket of persistent government dysfunction that has long frustrated improvement efforts. Such backlogs can keep people locked away for hundreds of days while they await trial.
For Better Crime Prevention, a Dose of Science
The New York Times

January 16, 2015
"Police will always play an important role, but there are other ways in," said Elizabeth Glazer, director of the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice. "If the way we think about crime is really about changing behavior and controlling risk, there are a lot of ways to do that. If you light up housing developments, are you less likely to have crime? Figuring out smart interventions way, way, before arrest, or using behavioral economics as a way to nudge people's behavior – these are incredibly important and promising areas we need to explore in a rigorous way."