At today’s Stated Meeting of the New York City Council, Council Member Tiffany Cabán introduced Int 0657-2022, a bill designed to track the property seized by District Attorneys. Joining Cabán as sponsors of the bill were Council Members Althea Stevens, Jennifer Gutiérrez, and Shahana Hanif.
“District Attorneys seize money and property left and right,” said Council Member Tiffany Cabán. “No due process is afforded those whose assets are being seized. They do not get their property back, even if the case is dismissed. They might not even be the target of a search warrant or investigation, but their property is liable to be seized just because they live there. Transparency and accountability are sorely needed. During budget hearings, DAs come and tell us that they haven’t got the funds necessary to implement vital criminal legal reforms, and plead for ever more money from us on the Council. We can’t assess the merits of these claims and pleas if we don’t know the status of the potentially hundreds of millions of dollars of seized assets they’re sitting on. If DAs want more money from us come budget time, they’re at least going to have to be open and transparent about what they’re doing with these funds.”
Close Rosies issued the following statement: “New York State prosecutors are required to return property turned over willingly or confiscated: but District Attorneys do not always return property after charges have been dropped as was the case of one of our Close Rosie’s members. Even when the property was finally returned the DAs office pretended they had not forensically evaluated it when evidence of device extraction software was found. Reporting on property seizures, auctions and device extractions is an initial step towards reigning-in decades old bad practices and impugn our ability to succeed in civil right actions.”
“Far too often, the NYPD has seized and held property without so much as a document noting what they took. This practice is regularly abused and often leaves those targeted by the police with less than they had before their interactions with the NYPD. This must be stopped,” said Council Member Shahana Hanif. “I’m glad to be signing on to Council Member Cabán’s bill to mandate reporting on seized property by each district attorney. This legislation will provide a real paper trail and make it possible for thousands of people to reclaim what is rightfully theirs.”
Additionally, Council Member Cabán introduced Res 0309-2022, a resolution in support of S.2832B, introduced by NYS Senator Jessica Ramos, and A.4558B, introduced by Assembly Member Dan Quart – the Promoting Pre-Trial (PromPT) Stability Act. Joining Cabán as sponsors of the bill were Council Members Alexa Avilés, Jennifer Gutiérrez, and Shahana Hanif.
“Learn the name Shamika Crawford,” said Council Member Tiffany Cabán. “In 2019, she was arrested based on a vaguely-worded misdemeanor assault complaint filed by her sometime boyfriend. Judges issued a pretrial stay-away order, separating her from her children, forcing her out of her own NYCHA apartment, and rendering her homeless for nearly three months. Ms. Crawford is far from alone. From my time as a public defender, I know full well that the NYPD will frequently arrest both people involved in a domestic dispute, and whoever gets in front of a judge first is granted the order of protection and allowed to go home, while the other is shut out. Unsurprisingly, even though rates of domestic violence are similar across socioeconomic status and ethnicity, it is poor and working class Black and brown New Yorkers who tend to come before the court. Let’s honor Shamika Crawford and so many more like her, and pass this resolution in support of the Promoting Pre-Trial (PromPT) Stability Act.”
“Every day in Bronx Criminal Court, people are made homeless and separated from their families by orders of protection that are rubberstamped without any real process,” said Julia Solomons, Senior Policy Social Worker at The Bronx Defenders. “Since the 1st Department decision in Crawford v. Ally was issued last spring, we are finally seeing some progress on this issue but the only way to ensure true due process and minimize the harmful consequences of wrongful orders of protection is to pass legislation codifying the right to a hearing. We are grateful to CM Caban for introducing this resolution, and urge the City Council to immediately vote on and pass it.”
“Temporary orders of protection disenfranchise the most marginalized New Yorkers by making housing, employment, and education even more difficult to obtain while they await their day in court. These orders have immense consequences for young people, families, LGBTQ+ people, criminalized survivors of violence, noncitizens, and people experiencing housing instability. Albany must safeguard against arbitrary orders and ensure that legally innocent people maintain their liberty, housing, and public benefits by passing the PromPT Stability Act without delay,” said Jared Trujillo, Policy Counsel at the New York Civil Liberties Union.
“In our flawed criminal justice system, far too often do we see tools of protection weaponized against the most vulnerable. While Temporary Orders of Protection are needed in certain situations, their overuse and lack of due process protections has hurt far too many and requires reform,” said Council Member Shahana Hanif. “I’m proud to sign on to Council Member Cabán’s resolution to call on our state to pass the Prompt Stability Act to make the necessary changes to our pre-trial system to ensure everyone can remain safe throughout difficult court proceedings. Our state legislature and governor must act to pass this legislation before more people end up homeless, jobless, or hurt.”
“Automatic, full criminal court orders of protection have devastating impacts on many New Yorkers – including homelessness and family separation. Courts must consider the unique needs of individual cases and craft individualized solutions that promote true safety for families,” said Yung-Mi Lee, Legal Director of the Criminal Practice at Brooklyn Defender Services. “Brooklyn Defender Services commends the New York City Council and Council Member Tiffany Caban for championing the Promote Pre-Trial (PromPT) Stability Act to strengthen New Yorkers’ due-process rights. We join the Council in calling on the New York State legislature to pass and the Governor to sign the PromPT Stability Act into law.”