The Legal Aid Society and fellow defenders are sounding the alarm over Mayor Eric Adams’ new plan to address gun violence in New York City. Although there are elements of his proposal that are constructive, many of the policies would roll back hard-won reforms and fail to make the city a safer place, as reported by the New York Daily News.
In a statement earlier this week, the local defender organizations praised the Mayor’s commitment of significant resources to strategies that support a holistic approach to mitigate gun violence by expanding mental health intervention services, job development, and housing support. They also expressed support for an expansion of the Summer Youth Employment Program and the Fair Futures Initiative for children in foster care.
However, the Mayor also proposed rollbacks to the bail reform, but data is clear: bail reform has not contributed to any increase in crime. The proposal to upend New York’s bail system by attempting to predict a person’s risk of future ‘dangerousness’ invites racial discrimination into our courtrooms and will lead to an unprincipled and unwarranted increase in pretrial jail population, as it has done in several other states.
The proposal to amend the Raise the Age law to increase the number of adolescents prosecuted as adults is equally ill-advised. The current law already allows for cases of gun possession to be retained in the adult court system; further rollbacks only risk undermining effective strategies for supporting young New Yorkers and addressing historical racial disparities. New York spent decades laboring under the myth that children are adults with no evidence that the practice ever reduced crime rates.
Reinstating the NYPD’s Anti-Crime Unit without also addressing the culture and policies that drove that unit’s decades-long pattern of harassment and violence targeting Black and brown New Yorkers is a mistake. The Mayor must focus on addressing long-standing problems with NYPD’s culture of impunity before he doubles down on strategies that will only perpetuate the harms of that culture.
Last Updated: 25 January 2022
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