Speaker Johnson Outlines Proposals for a 21st Century Criminal Justice System

New York, NY – New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson on Thursday delivered a criminal justice policy speech, unveiling numerous proposals that seek to obtain a fairer and more just criminal justice system for the 21st century.

The speech at John Jay College of Criminal Justice included diversion and alternatives to incarceration, parole reform, addressing the mass incarceration of the mentally ill, instituting a day fine system, diverting drivers with suspended licenses violations to the Department of Motor vehicles, and eliminating mandatory surcharges imposed for convictions. 

Full copy of the speech available via this link.

“We are at a pivotal moment in our city. We have moved away from policies like stop-and-frisk and broken windows that for far too long disproportionally hurt communities of color. Through this Council’s efforts over the years – spurred by grassroots activism – we have shown that this approach can keep crime down and keep all communities safe. It is time we build on the gains we’ve made and go farther to bring our City where it needs to go. The vision I outlined today shows us how to get there,” said Speaker Johnson.

“The policies of broken windows and stop and frisk are outdated methods that only led to mass incarceration and a decaying trust between police and communities,” said Council Member Donovan Richards, Chair of the Committee on Public Safety. “Focusing on alternatives to incarceration, such as robust mental health and addiction services, will actually address the needs of people who continue to cycle in and out of jail because they haven’t received the proper health services. I’d like to thank Speaker Johnson for his focus on funding criminal justice reforms and the service providers who truly make a difference in people’s lives.”

“As the city pursues the closure of Rikers Island, we have a real opportunity to overhaul the criminal justice system. From reforming parole to improving the treatment of incarcerated individuals, I applaud Speaker Johnson for his creative proposals to address glaring issues in our policing, our courts, and our jails,” said Council Member Keith Powers, Chair on the Committee on Criminal Justice.

“New York City’s criminal justice system is badly broken and outdated. I commend Speaker Johnson for making reform a priority and laying out steps the city can take to make our justice system fairer for all,” said Council Member Rory Lancman, Chair of the Committee on the Justice System.

“Speaker Johnson is right – it’s long past time that we have a conversation about how we police sex trade in New York City. The state must pass legislation to end the criminalization of loitering for the purpose of prostitution, and the Mayor should join the Council in supporting funding for a groundbreaking support center where individuals can get access to the services they need,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera, Co-Chair of the Council’s Women’s Caucus.

“The current criminal justice framework governing over the sex trade ignores the reality that so many individuals involved in sex trade face, and fosters a level of mistrust between community and government that discourages many individuals from accessing the supportive services they need. We need innovative, sensitive and, most importantly, empathetic policy solutions dedicated to empowering — not oppressing — communities, especially young women, immigrants and LGBTQI New Yorkers. Today, Speaker Corey Johnson signaled New York City’s commitment to focus our efforts on services and outreach, not increased policing, and I’m proud to join him to push this dialogue forward,” said Council Member Margaret Chin, Chair of the Committee on Aging.

“I am very heartened by Speaker Johnson’s nuanced proposal to move city policy in a direction that better protects all individuals in the sex trade. The Speaker’s proposal reflects our shared goal to end the exploitation of marginalized women, youth, and LGBTQI people. Just as important – his proposal will help to ensure that persons bought and sold in the sex trade are not prosecuted and that trafficking survivors are able to vacate their convictions. Step by step, we are developing public policy which acknowledges that the sex trade is far more than a question of criminal justice,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Chair of the Committee on Women and Gender Equity. ###