Council Votes to Require Video and Real-Time Tracking in Jail System to Increase On-Time Court Appearances, Reduce Delays and Failures
Council also passes legislation to inform employees of their sick time and worker rights and address late CityFHEPS rental assistance payments by the City
City Hall, NY – Today, the New York City Council voted to require the Department of Correction (DOC) to video record interactions when incarcerated individuals are informed of their scheduled court appearances and establish a way for defense attorneys to receive real-time information about their clients’ departures from housing on days of court appearances. The legislation, an effort to improve the declining rates at which people in pre-trial detention are brought to court on-time for hearings, also requires monthly reporting on court production outcomes, including arrival times and how many individuals did not make it to court.
In addition, the Council also voted on legislation that would require the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection to create an informational campaign concerning workers’ rights under the Earned Safe and Sick Time Act of 2013 and implement an outreach and education campaign regarding the Temporary Schedule Change Act of 2018.
The Council also passed bills that will help address late payments of CityFHEPS rental assistance vouchers that threaten recipients’ housing stability, expand disaggregated data captured by the Department of Education (DOE) to include students in foster care and temporary housing, require the creation of an Urban Forest Plan that aims to help the city expand the tree canopy, and require the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to inspect and issue a report on each public restroom under its jurisdiction.
“Today, the Council advanced transparency measures for our jail system that can help ensure individuals detained before trial are brought to their court hearings on time,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “This bill is part of our efforts to reduce court delays that have excessively lengthened stays in our city’s jails, which contribute to a higher population than is necessary. I’m also proud that the Council has passed bills to help address the city’s late payments of CityFHEPS rental vouchers, which can put New Yorkers at risk of eviction and remaining in the shelter system. Bureaucratic delays by city government in providing housing voucher payments should not keep or push people into homelessness.”
Addressing Lower Court Production Rates That Lengthen Jail Stays
Introduction 1094-A, sponsored by Council Member Carlina Rivera, would require the Department of Correction to record all interactions when an incarcerated individual is informed of their scheduled court appearance. It also requires DOC to provide this information and real-time updates regarding an incarcerated individual’s departure from their housing facility on the date of a scheduled appearance to defense attorneys. In addition, monthly data on court production outcomes would be required for submission to the mayor, council, and department website.
According to a February report, more than a quarter of people detained in city jails were not being brought to court on time for their hearings and trials during the period of September to December 2022, the highest such rate of failure since recordkeeping began in 1999. This contributes to those detained at Rikers spending an average of 115 days in the jail – four times the national average and nearly double the 61-day average in 2016 – according to data from an April 2023 report by the federal monitor in the Nunez v. City of New York case. The increased length of stay has been a major factor in the city’s increased jail population, which 86 percent consists of those awaiting trial.
“When people are not produced for court, it further stresses an already backlogged court system,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera, Chair of the Committee on Criminal Justice. “Today, I am proud to pass legislation that will improve transparency and court production building on the consistent leadership from Council that ensures the Department of Correction assures people’s rights and eliminates any further delays to a person’s release and program needs.”
Educating Workers about their Rights
Introduction 78-A, sponsored by Council Member Gale A. Brewer, would require the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection to conduct an outreach campaign to employers, job applicants and employees about their rights under the Earned Safe and Sick Time Act of 2013. Under Local Law 46 of 2013, covered employees have the right to use safe and sick leave for the care and treatment of themselves or a family member, seek legal and social services assistance, or take other safety measures if the employee or a family member may be at risk or currently a victim of domestic violence, unwanted sexual contact, stalking, or human trafficking. This informational campaign would include, but not be limited to, the distribution of posters, flyers, and other written materials through pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and other health-related institutions to educate the public and workforce.
Introduction 818-A, sponsored by Council Member Gale A. Brewer, would require the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection to conduct an outreach campaign to employers, employees and members of the public about the Temporary Schedule Change Act. Under Local Law 69 of 2018, covered employees have the right to temporary changes in their work schedule for certain personal events, such as tending to caregiver duties; attending a legal proceeding or hearing for subsistence benefits to which the employee, a family member or an employee’s care recipient is a party; or any event that qualifies for the use of safe time or sick time pursuant to the City’s Earned Safe and Sick Time Act. Such outreach and education shall be provided to employers, employees, and members of the public who are likely to be affected by the law.
“I am pleased today that the Council is voting on legislation to create ongoing informational campaigns on the Earned Safe and Sick Time Act and Temporary Schedule Change Act, respectively, said Council Member Gale A. Brewer. “With gratitude, I note that these votes coincide with the 10th Anniversary of the passage of the City’s Earned Sick Time Law, which I introduced and fought for alongside an incredible coalition to guarantee paid time off for 3.4 million private-sector workers across New York, including 1.2 million workers who had no access to paid sick time before the law was passed in 2013. We all know that the work of real change doesn’t end with the passage of any law. The ongoing outreach and engagement required by today’s bills are crucial in improving access to laws helping make our city healthier and fairer.”
Reporting on the Timeliness of CityFHEPS Rental Assistance Payments
Introduction 703-A, sponsored by Council Member Shaun Abreu, would help address late payments of CityFHEPS rental assistance vouchers that threaten recipients’ housing stability, a rising problem that places New Yorkers at risk of evictions. It would require the Department of Social Services (DSS) to submit a quarterly report on the timeliness of rental assistance payments to the Council and for publication on its website, starting March 1, 2024. The report would include information regarding the rental assistance payment amount, the payment month, the zip code of the recipient, whether the payment was sent on time or late and why, and a description of steps to ensure timely payment in the future.
Creating an Urban Forest Master Plan
Introduction 1065-A, sponsored by Council Member Erik Bottcher, would require the City to create an Urban Forest Plan that aims to expand the tree canopy from the current 22% coverage to 30% coverage. The plan would be required to evaluate the distribution, health, and stability of the City’s urban forest, identify the causes of tree canopy cover and urban forest gain or reduction, and recommend strategies to remediate any urban forest loss, as well as prevent similar loss in the future and facilitate gain in the tree canopy. It would also include an outreach plan to educate real property owners by providing them with information and strategies on how to protect and expand the trees and vegetation located on private property and require the City to collect data to monitor the effectiveness of the plan and the condition of the tree canopy at least every 5 years. Finally, a plan would need to be submitted to the Mayor and the Council updating it every ten years.
“Last week’s flooding showed us, once again, that we must take drastic action to increase the permeable surface area across our city, and that includes planting thousands of street trees,” said Council Member Erik Bottcher. “The Urban Forrest Master Plan will ensure a greener, more sustainable New York by expanding tree canopy coverage to 30% of the entire city. I want to thank Speaker Adrienne Adams for her leadership as well as my colleagues Council Members Krishnan and Brewer for their partnership in making this bill a reality. I also want to recognize all the advocacy of the Forrest for All Coalition who have worked hand in hand with the Council to realize this major step forward in the health and well-being of all New Yorkers. Trees are an essential tool in combating climate change, cleaning our air, absorbing storm water and providing homes for wildlife. We must continue to do all we can to ensure more are planted and cared for as the vital pieces of infrastructure they are. I am proud to stand with all my colleagues today to celebrate the passage of this very important legislation.”
Including Students in Foster Care and Temporary Housing within Education Data
Introduction 857-A, sponsored by Council Member Rita Joseph, would expand current data captured by Department of Education reports, including related to special education services, to include students in foster care or temporary housing.
“Foster youth and Students in Temporary Housing must be at the forefront of our educational policies,” said Council Member Rita Joseph. “With additional data to support students within these communities, the City Council will be able to deliver equitable investments to ensure our youth thrive.”
Reporting on the Conditions of the City’s Public Restrooms
Introduction 576-A, sponsored by Council Member Rita Joseph, would require the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), to inspect and issue a report on each public restroom under its jurisdiction that has routinely been given an unacceptable rating after having been inspected by DPR. DPR would also be required to maintain a website that would include information about the location of each restroom and the condition and functionality of features in each public restroom (i.e., the cleanliness and the conditions of fixtures like sinks and toilets in such restrooms), as determined by DPR inspections.
“New Yorkers should know where public restrooms across this city are located and their current conditions,” said Council Member Rita Joseph. “The Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) will now be required to maintain a website that contains this information. Ensuring that our public restrooms are accessible and well maintained, is upholding the model of equity and innovation for our city.”
Calling for State Law to Create Alert System for Missing Victims of Domestic Violence
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence is one of the most underreported crimes and according to the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender Based Violence, last year there were 272, 484 domestic violence incident reports in New York City.
Resolution 475-A, sponsored by Council Member Amanda Farias, would call on the New York state legislature to pass, and the Governor to sign, legislation to create a “purple alert system” for missing victims of domestic violence. It will mandate the use of interagency collaboration and the urgent dissemination of information to investigate and provide for the safe rescue of vulnerable victims of domestic violence.
“It has been reported that on average that every minute that passes in the United States 20 people experience domestic violence and rates of domestic violence in New York City continue to be the highest in my home borough of the Bronx,” said Council Member Amanda Farias. “Women and families need a responsive city when their loved ones need advocacy and action. I stand with my colleagues united in fighting this issue together with long- and short-term solutions at both the city and state levels. That is why I’m proud to pass a Reso 475 today with my colleagues and members of the Women’s Caucus to call on New York State to create a purple alert system for missing victims of domestic violence. Thank you to the State sponsors on this bill Assemblymember Khaleel Anderson and Senator Julia Salazar for your leadership on this as well.”
42-18 31st Avenue Rezoning – will facilitate a 6 six story mixed-use building with 33 housing units, 9 affordable units, commercial ground floor along with automobile and bicycle parking spaces. The Council is modifying the application to strike MIH Option 2 and add the Deep Affordability Option, resulting in MIH Option 1 and Deep Affordability Option as the applicable MIH Options, in Council Member Won’s district.
Transparency Resolution approving new designations and changes of certain organizations receiving funding in the Expense Budget.