JUSTICE WEEK: JAILS IN YOUR COMMUNITY

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to close Rikers Island and replace it with borough-based jails is underway. But could smaller jails lead to safer or more dangerous streets? In partnership with Public Square Media, we continue our special “Justice Week” series and examine the blueprint for the closing of Rikers Island with some of the key officials leading New York’s criminal justice reform.

For more information on Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez’s Post Conviction Review Unit, Sealing Unit, and the nationally recognized Conviction Review Unit, click here: www.brooklynda.org

To read New York’s “Bail Elimination Act” authored by New York State Senator Michael Gianaris, click here: https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2019/s2101

To learn more about Tyler Nims, Executive Director of The Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform and how that commission is driving change, click here: https://www.morejustnyc.org/

Aired on May 22 & July 31, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS.'

JAILS IN YOUR COMMUNITY.

THE MAYOR'S PLAN TO CLOSE RIKERS AND REPLACE IT WITH FOUR BURROUGHED BASED FACILITIES IS UNDERWAY.

OUR SPECIAL JUSTICE WEEK SERIES EXAMINES THE BLUEPRINT FOR THE CLOSING OF RIKERS ISLAND WITH SOME OF THE KEY OFFICIALS LEADING NEW YORK'S JUSTICE REFORM.

THE SPECIAL JUSTICE WEEK ON 'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW

THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY -- CORPORATE FUNDING FOR 'METROFOCUS' WAS PROVIDED BY MUTUAL OF AMERICA, YOUR RETIREMENT COMPANY.

AND BY PSE&G, SERVING CUSTOMERS, STRENGTHENING THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY AND INVESTING IN THE FUTURE.

GOOD EVENING.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

TONIGHT YOUR SAFETY AND YOUR TAX DOLLARS.

AS WE CONTINUE OUR JUSTICE WEEK INITIATIVE AND PARTNERSHIP WITH PUBLIC SQUARE MEDIA, OUR FOCUS TURNS TO A QUESTION OF SIZE, DOLLARS, AND COMMON SENSE.

HOW CAN WE SHRINK THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM WITHOUT IMPACTING PUBLIC SAFETY?

MAYOR de BLASIO HAS A 10-YEAR MAN TO CLOSE RIKERS ISLAND AND BUILD FOUR SMALLER FACILITIES AROUND THE CITY.

IS IT EVEN FEASIBLE?

AND WHAT MIGHT CLOSING RIKERS MEAN FOR YOU, YOUR FAMILY, YOUR COMMUNITY AND EVEN YOUR PROPERTY VALUE IF THIS PLAN PREVAILS?

AND IN A MUCH BROADER CONTEXT.

THERE ARE CURRENTLY SOME 46,000 PEOPLE SERVING TIME IN AND AROUND THE STATE WITH.

SOME INSIGHT, THE BROOKLYN DISTRICT ATTORNEY.

THE NEW YORK STATE SENATOR AND DEPUTY SENATE MAJORITY LEADER, AND THE EXECUTIVE FOR THE LITMAN COMMISSION.

WELCOME TO ALL OF YOU.

I'LL COME TO YOU GIVEN YOUR INVOLVEMENT HERE.

FLR A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO MAY BE SAYING, WHAT'S WRONG WITH RIKERS ISLAND?

THERE ARE PEOPLE WE NEED TO TAKE OFF THE STREETS TO PROTECT SOCIETY FROM THEM.

WHAT'S THE PROBLEM AND WHAT'S THE REPLACEMENT?

THE FIRST THING TO UNDERSTAND IS THAT RIKER'S ISLAND IS A COMBINATION OF EIGHT JAILS.

MOST OF THE PEOPLE THERE ON RIKERS ISLAND ARE PEOPLE WHO HAVEN'T BEEN CONVICTED OF A CRIME.

THEY'RE MOSTLY PRETRIAL.

THAT'S AN INTERESTING FACTOR THAT I DON'T THINK PEOPLE ARE AWARE OF.

A SIGNIFICANT PERCENTAGE HAVEN'T EVEN GOTTEN TO THEIR TRIAL STAGE YET.

THAT'S RIGHT.

AND THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN EXTENSIONED ARE ONLY THOSE THIS FOR LESS THAN ONE YEAR.

IF IT IS MORE THAN THAT, YOU GO TO A STATE PRISON.

AND THEN ANOTHER CHUNK OF PEOPLE.

OUR COMMISSION LOOKED AT THESE JAILS ON RIKERS WHICH HAD BEEN AROUND 80 YEARS.

FROM THE VERY OUTSET, KNOWN FOR INHUMANE CONDITIONS, KNOWN FOR VIOLENCE, MOST RECENTLY, THE FEDERAL PROSECUTORS FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK BROUGHT SUIT AGAINST THE CITY OF NEW YORK CALLING CONDITIONS THERE UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

MOST OF THE PEOPLE, MANY OF THE PEOPLE THIS SUFFER FROM MENTAL ILLNESSES.

WE LOOKED AT THE JAILS ON RIKERS ISLAND.

WE LOOKED AT THE PHYSICAL CONDITIONS.

AND IN MANY CASES, THE PHYSICAL CONDITIONS ARE FALLING APART.

SIGHT LINES ARE LONG.

THE CONDITIONS ARE UNSAFE.

THOSE ARE THINGS THAT THEORETICALLY YOU CAN FIX ON RIKERS ISLAND.

BUT WHAT YOU CAN'T FIX IS THE ISOLATION.

RIKERS ISLAND IS AN ISLAND, IN THE EAST RIVER.

MOST OF THE PEOPLE WHO WERE THERE HAVE TO BE TAKEN TO COURT FREQUENTLY SO EVERY DAY IN NEW YORK CITY, YOU HAVE 700 PEOPLE WHO WERE TRANSPORTED TO COURTS IN EACH OF THE FIVE BURROUGHS.

YOU CUT PEOPLE OFF FROM THEIR FAMILIES.

FROM THEIR LAWYERS, FROM SERVICE PROVIDERS.

MOST PEOPLE WHO GO INTO THE JUSTICE SYSTEM OR THE JAILS IN RIKERS ARE COMING RIGHT BACK TO NEW YORK CITY.

GOT THE TAKE BETTER CARE OF THEM AND IT IS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO DO THAT ON AN ISLAND LIKE RIKERS.

SO THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE IN JAIL.

WE CAN CUT THE NUMBER IN JAIL BY HALF.

AND WE SHOULD MOVE TO A SMALLER SYSTEM OF JAILS LOCATED CLOSE TO THE COURT HOUSES.

GET RID OF MANY OF THE PROBLEMS IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM.

LET ME FOLLOW UP ON THAT.

RIKER'S ISLAND AS A SYMBOL.

HOW SIGNIFICANT IS THAT IN TERMS OF THE DECISION MAKING?

AND WE TALKED ABOUT ALL THE PROBLEMS.

MAYBE 80 YEARS AGO IT MADE SENSE TO BE ON AN ISLAND.

IT DOESN'T ANYMORE.

AND THE NUMBERS FAR EXCEEDED WHAT ANYBODY ANTICIPATED.

HOW ABOUT WHAT IT HAS BECOME?

THE NOTION OF WHAT IT SYMBOLIZED?

FOR PERSPECTIVE ON RIKERS ISLAND, I HAPPEN TO LIVE ABOUT A HALF MILE AWAY FROM THE BRIDGE.

I SPEND TIME AS AN OFFICIAL AND I PARTICIPATED IN A MENTORING PROGRAM.

FOR ME, MEMORIES OF ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK.

WHERE THEY WALLED OFF MANHATTAN AND DUMPED OFF ALL THE PRISONERS IN THERE.

MORE IMPORTANT IS THE PRACTICAL CONSEQUENCE THAT'S TYLER JUST MENTIONED.

WE HAVE A STRUCTURE WHERE IT IS DIFFICULT FOR ANYONE WHO LIVES IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD IN ASTORIA TO GET TO.

FOR LAWYERS TO VISIT THEIR CLIENTS AND IT BECOMES VERY IMPRACTICAL AND COSTLY FOR TRANSPORTATION OF THESE INMATES TO AND FROM COURTHOUSES.

IT WOULD WORK MUCH BETTER IN A DISPERSED SYSTEM.

THE OTHER THING I WOULD MENTION, THE JAIL POPULATIONS ARE FALLING IN GENERAL BECAUSE OF THE REDUCTION IN CRIME OVER THE LAST COUPLE DECADES.

WE ELIMINATE CASH BAIL FOR NONVIOLENT CHARGES.

THAT WILL END UP HAVING A MASSIVE REDUCTION ON THE JAIL POPULATION OF IT IS A FACT, ABOUT 80% OR SO, ARE PEOPLE AWAITING TRIAL SITTING AT RIKERS ISLAND.

SO THAT POPULATION WILL BE DECREASED BECAUSE OF THE CHANGE IN THE LAW.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE MARKETS OF CLOSING DOWN RIKERS COULD HAVE.

FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE, AS THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY.

AND SOME MIGHT THINK, IF YOU'RE THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY, WE'RE FINE WHERE THEY ARE.

DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT.

THAT'S NOT THE CASE.

WHY DO YOU FEEL THAT THIS IDEA OF CLOSING DOWN LIKERS AND OPENING UP FOUR OTHER FACILITIES THAT WILL FOCUS MORE ON NOT JUST WAREHOUSING PEOPLE.

FIRST OF ALL, TRYING TO REDUCE THE NUMBER.

PROVIDE SOME SERVICES.

WHY WOULD THAT BE SIGNIFICANT TO YOU AS A PROSECUTOR?

FOR US IN BROOKLYN, WE HAVE A JAIL, PRE EXISTING, THE BROOKLYN HOUSE OF DETENTION.

THAT PLACE IS A A FUNCTIONING, OPERATING JAIL CURRENTLY.

SO WHILE THERE ARE SOME CONCERNS FOR THE NEIGHBORHOOD ABOUT HOW WE WOULD BUILD A NEW JAIL IN THAT EXISTING FOOT PRINT.

IT MAKES A WILL THE OF SENSE FOR US TO HAVE THAT.

WE HAVE THE COURTHOUSE ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE JAIL.

THE TUNNEL FROM THE JAIL RIGHT INTO THE COURTHOUSE.

SO IN TERMS OF PUBLIC SAFETY.

THERE'S NOT A LOT OF CONCERNS.

BUT FOR THE SENSE OF BEING ABLE TO HAVE AN EFFICIENT COURT SYSTEM, WE SPEND HOURS EACH MORNING WAITING FOR THE BUS TO COME FROM RIKERS ISLAND.

OFTEN DLAIG CASES.

NOTHING IS WORSE THAN JURORS SITTING IN A ROOM WAITING FOR A TRIAL TO GET STARTED.

AND THEN WAITING EARLY SO PEOPLE CAN GET BACK ON THE BUS.

OFTEN NONDELIVERY OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE TO COME TO COURT.

IT PREVENTS THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE.

BUT ON A MORE IMPORTANT BASIS THAN THAT IS THE HUMAN DIGNITY OF OUR CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM.

WE HAVE TO HAVE A JUSTICE SYSTEM THAT IS MEANT TO ACCOMPLISH PUBLIC SAFETY.

BUT ALSO PROMOTE PUBLIC TRUST.

AND TO JUST GLOSS OVER THE FACT OF THE TORTURED HISTORY OF RIKERS ISLAND, AND WHAT SYMBOLICALLY IT MEANS TO PEOPLE TO BE PLACED ON THE ISLAND.

AND THE HARM THAT BEING PLACED ON RIKERS ISLAND HAS DONE OVER THE YEARS IN GENERATIONS AND PARTICULARLY IN LOW INCOME AND COMMUNITIES OF COLOR.

JUST TO SAY THAT IT COULD BE SPRUCED UP.

REALLY UNDERESTIMATES HOW DAMAGING THAT INSTITUTION HAS BEEN.

WE CAN HAVE A NEW JAIL THAT IS CREATED WITH THE GOAL OF RESTORING HUMAN DIGNITY TO PEOPLE WHO HAVE NOT BEEN CONVICTED.

EVEN TO THOSE WHO ARE CONVICTED OF CRIME.

HOUSE THEM THAT WAYS THAT ARE MEN TO REHABILITATE THEM AND NOT MEN TO PUNISH THEM IN OUR JAIL SYSTEM.

LET'S GO BACK TO THE IDEA OF THE VARIOUS INITIATIVES THAT HAVE BEEN TAKING PLACE HERE.

THAT ARE DESIGNED TO IMPROVE OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM.

DESIGNED TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO ARE INCARCERATED.

LET'S START WITH THE NOTION, LET ME COME TO YOU.

YOU ARE INSTRUMENTAL IN THE CHANGES BEING MADE TO THEM.

IF I'M COULD NOT IS IT THE WENT OF YOURS AND I SAY, WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?

ISN'T BAIL GOOD THING?

A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK IT IS TRUE BUT IT'S NOT.

THEY BELIEVE IT IS A HEAD START ON A PUNISHMENT.

GET PEOPLE IN JAIL NOW TO START THEIR PUNISHMENT.

REGARDING THEY ARE INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY.

BUT PEOPLE THINK IT PUTS A HOOK IN THEM AND GETS THEM OFF THE STREET TO PROTECT US.

THAT'S NOT THE CASE LEGALLY.

BUT WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO ONE OF YOUR CONSTITUENTS?

WHY ARE YOU LEADING THIS CHARGE HERE TO CHANGE THE WHOLE BAIL STRUCTURE?

BECAUSE THE JUSTICE SYSTEM NEEDS TO BE JUST.

AND WE HAVE FORWARD THINKING DISTRICT ATTORNEYS LIKE MR.

GONZALEZ HERE KNOWS THAT.

FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO ARE ENTERING INTO THE SYSTEM, AS YOU POINT OUT, THEY'RE BEING TREATED LIKE CRIMINALS BEFORE THEY'RE CONVICTED OF CRIME.

AND BAIL ESPECIALLY, TO THE POOR.

ONE HAS MEANS AND ONE DOES NOT.

THE WEALTHY PERSON WILL BE AT HOME WAITING FOR TRIAL AND THE PERSON WHO DOESN'T HAVE $500,000, WHATEVER THE BAIL IS SET FOR.

THIS COMES BACK TO WHAT YOU SAID ABOUT THE PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE WHO ARE BEING WAREHOUSED WHO HAVEN'T EVEN BEEN TRIED YET.

AND THAT'S THE PROBLEM WITH BAIL.

NONE OF THESE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN CONVICTED OF THE CRIME FOR WHICH THEY WERE CHARGED.

AND YET THEY DON'T HAVE THE MONEY TO GET OUT AND THEY'RE SERVING PUNISHMENT.

WE TALKED ABOUT THE DISPARITY BETWEEN RICH AND POOR IN THE SYSTEM BUT YOU'RE DEALING WITH THE FACT, SOME UNSCRUPULOUS PROSECUTORS, A GOOD FRIEND HERE WHO IS ONE OF THE PROGRESSIVES OF THE CITY.

WE'LL USE THAT LEVERAGE.

IT IS SOMETHING WHERE THEY'RE ALREADY SERVING TIME AS A HEAD START ON THEIR PUNISHMENT IF THEY'RE CONVICTED.

SOME WILL SAY YOU'VE BEEN CHARGED WITH A RELATIVELY LOW LEVEL WITH A CRIME.

I CAN TELL YOU, WHEN I WAS A YOUNG PROSECUTOR, THIS IS LIKE FOUR DECADES AGO.

AND GOING TO PROSECUTOR SCHOOL, WE WERE TAUGHT THAT.

USE IT LEVERAGE.

I KNOW YOU'RE SAYING YOU DID NOT DO IT BUT --

THAT'S OBVIOUSLY WRONG.

IT IS HARD FOR SOME PEOPLE TO SAY NO TO IF THEY'VE BEEN THIS THERE.

IT TAKES A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF COURAGE AND BRAVERY FOR SOMEONE WHO DIDN'T DO A CRIME TO SAY I'LL SPEND MORE TIME ON RIKERS THANG I NEED TO TO TRY TO PROVE MY INNOCENCE.

BUT WE'RE TAUGHT THROUGH SCHOOL, WE'RE ALL LAWYERS IN ONE FORM OR ANOTHER, THAT YOU'RE INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY IN OUR SYSTEM.

THE REALITY IS YOU'RE GUILTY UNLESS PROVEN WEALTHY.

IF YOU DON'T HAVE THE MONEY.

WHAT ARE WE SEEING AS BAIL OPTIONS?

FOR THE NONVIOLENT CHARGES FOR THE MOST PART, MISDEMEANORS AND NONVINT FELONIES, THERE'S NO BAIL AS OF 2020 HAD THIS GOES INTO EFFECT.

JUDGES WILL BE ABLE TO IMPOSE CONDITIONS ON THE RELEASE OF SOME OF THESE DEFENDANTS WHERE THEY'RE REQUIRED TO CHECK IN.

WITH THE EQUIVALENT OF THE PAROLE OFFICERS.

IN SOME PLACES.

BUTS --

WHAT THEY CAN DO IS DETAIN THAT IN JAIL PRIOR TO A CONDITION.

THE VIOLENT CRIMES ARE TREATED THE SAME AS TODAY.

WE'RE NOT CHANGING THE SYSTEM FOR VIOLENT CRIMES.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE THAT.

THIS IS NOT ACROSS THE BOARD.

PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED HOW MANY OF THE PEOPLE IN OUR CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM ARE THEREFORE NONVIOLENT CRIMES.

WE THINK ABOUT 80% OF THE JAIL POPULATION WILL BE AFFECTED BY THIS.

ARE YOU OKAY WITH THAT AS A PROSECUTOR?

ARE YOU OKAY WITH THE NOTION OF SORT OF RELAXING, WHAT WITH THE TRADITIONAL APPROACHES TO BAIL?

ABSOLUTELY.

I CALLED TO END CASH BAIL.

BECAUSE THE ISSUE WITH CASH BAIL AS THE SENATOR SAID WAS AN ISSUE THAT WAS A POVERTY TAX, IF YOU COULD NOT AFFORD $200, OR $500.

YOU WERE KEPT IN.

IF YOU COULD NOT AFFORD THAT SMALL AMOUNT OF BAIL.

AND AS CASES BECAME MORE SERIOUS, THE MORE PEOPLE GET KEPT IN AS THEY WERE POOR.

A NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO WERE $1,000 IS EVERY MAN'S STATUS.

BUT NOT ONLY WAS IT UNFAIR.

IT DIDN'T PROVIDE FOR PUBLIC SAFETY.

BECAUSE THE CONCEPT THAT IF YOU COULD AFFORD TO BE OUT OF REALLY SPEAKS TO THE IDEA THAT THE SYSTEM ISN'T DESIGNED FOR PUBLIC SAFETY.

WHAT IT WAS MEN TO DO WAS ENTRAP PEOPLE WHO COULD NOT AFFORD IT.

PEOPLE WHO COULD AFFORD TO MAKE BAIL REGARDLESS OF HOW SERIOUS THE CHARGE WAS, REGARDLESS OF THE CRIMINAL BACK GROUND, THEY GOT OUT.

SO WE NEEDED A SYSTEM THAT ACTUALLY MADE SENSE IN TERMS OF PUBLIC SAFETY.

FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE AND THE COMMISSIONS, WHEN YOU'RE SEEING THESE PROPOSALS, HOW DID THEY FIT INTO THE OVERVIEW THAT YOU HAD IN THE SYSTEM?

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE TO HELP IN TERMS OF THE POPULATION.

WE HAD ABOUT 45 DIFFERENT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR HOW THE JUSTICE SYSTEM COULD BE IMPROVED SO THERE ARE FEWER PEOPLE IN JAIL.

WE DON'T HAVE A MONOPOLY ON ALL THE GOOD IDEAS OUT THERE.

BUT ONE OF THE CENTRAL PIECES IS GETTING RID OF CASH BAIL.

SO VERY IMPORTANT.

WHAT HAS BEEN DONE IN THE LEGISLATURE.

DISCOVERY REFORM, SPEEDY TRIAL REFORM, ALSO THINGS THAT HAPPENED A FEW WEEKS AGO.

I WANT TO MAKE A BIGGER POINT.

WHEN WE TALK ABOUT THE JUSTICE SYSTEM WE'RE OFTEN TALKING ABOUT THE RISK OF LETTING SOMEBODY OUT.

WHAT WE RARELY TALK ABOUT IS THE RISK OF PUTTING SOMEBODY IN JAIL WHO DOESN'T NEED TO BE THERE.

AND THE CONSEQUENCES OF SPENDING EVEN A FEW DAYS IN JAIL ARE REALLY SERIOUS.

WE CAN IMAGINE IT IN OUR OWN LIVES.

HOW WE EXPLAIN TO IT OUR BOSS.

WE COULD LOSE OUR JOB, OUR HOUSE, CUSTODY OF YOUR KIDS.

ALL OF THOSE THINGS ARE THINGS THAT CAN HAPPEN TO PEOPLE WHO ARE PUT IN JAIL EVEN FOR A SHORT TIME.

AND STUDIES BEAR THIS OUT.

THEY SHOW THAT SOMEBODY WHO IS IN JAIL FOR MORE THAN 48 HOURS IS MORE LIKELY TO COME BACK TO JAIL.

SO WHAT THAT SHOWS IS THAT IN MANY CASES, JAIL IS ENCOURAGING CRIMINAL ACTIVITY.

IT IS LEADING TO MORE CRIMINAL ACTIVITY DOWN THE LINE.

NOTHING CAN BE MORE PERVERSE THAN THAT.

AND THOSE ARE VERY REVEALING STUDIES.

LET'S TALK AGAIN ABOUT PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS.

BECAUSE THE PUBLIC DOESN'T KNOW THAT.

THEY HAVEN'T SEEN THOSE NUMBERS.

HERE'S WHAT THE VAST NUMBER WOULD THINK.

THIS GUY HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH SOMETHING.

ODDS ARE HE DID IT.

SOMETHING REAL CLOSE TO IT.

WHY SHOULD HE BE BACK ON THE STREET?

ARE NOT I SAFER IF HE'S IN THERE?

THEN YOU HAVE ELECTED JUDGES AND PROSECUTORS.

AND I KNOW FROM TALKING TO JUDGES, THAT THE WORST NIGHTMARE IS, YOU LET SOMEBODY OUT ON BAIL.

AND THE NEXT THING YOU KNOW, THEY'RE BACK ON A HOMICIDE CHARGE.

I THINK WE HAVE TO CHANGE THE PERCEPTION OF WHAT OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM IS ABOUT.

OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM SHOULD BE ABOUT ACCOUNTABILITY AND PREVENTING PEOPLE FROM COMMITTING CRIMES.

I THINK FROM A VERY EARLY STAGE IN OUR COURTS, YOU KNOW, JUDGES WERE EXPECTED TO COULD THAT 56th PEOPLE AND HAND OUT LENGTHY SENTENCES.

AND WE NEED TO REALLY CHANGE WHAT THE GOAL OF OUR COURT SYSTEM AND PROSECUTION SHOULD BE.

IT SHOULD BE ABOUT MAKING OUR COMMUNITIES SAFE AND DOING THINGS TO MAKE OUR COMMUNITIES SAFER.

WE SPOKE EARLIER ABOUT THE FACT WHEN PEOPLE GET OUT OF RIKERS, THEY RETURN RIGHT BACK HOME.

SO IF OUR JAIL IS NOT ABOUT REHABILITATION, WE JUST DELAY THE PROBLEM.

WE'RE NOT KEEPING OURSELVES SAFE BY PUTTING SOMEONE IN JAIL SIX OR NINE MONTHS.

THEY'RE RETURNING HOME WITH MUCH MORE TRAUMA AND MUCH MORE ISSUES.

WE KNOW IT IS PRETTY UNCONTESTED.

THE THINGS THAT KEEP PEOPLE ON THE STRAIGHT AND NARROW, HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES, EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES, AND HAVING A SIGNIFICANT OTHER PERSON IN YOUR LIFE.

AND WHEN WE TAKE PEOPLE AND WE PUT THEM IN JAIL, WE REMOVE THEM FROM THE THINGS THAT WILL MAKE THEM WITH THE POSSIBILITY OF HAVING SUCCESS.

AND WE SEE THIS ON PAROLE.

WE TAKE PEOPLE IN AND OUT OF THE SYSTEM ON THESE TECHNICAL VIOLATIONS AND WE REMOVE THEM FROM THEIR JOBS AND COMMUNITIES.

AND WE YO-YO THEM BACK AND FORTH.

THAT'S NOT A RECIPE TO MAKE A PERSON LIVE A PRODUCTIVE LIFE.

THAT IS A RECIPE FOR WHAT WE SEE TO HOMELESSNESS.

AND TO FURTHER CRIMINAL ACTIVITY.

YOU SAID SOMETHING EARLIER.

UP PEOPLE'S PERCEPTIONS, ODDS ARE THEY COMMITTED A CRIME.

THE PRETRIAL PROCESS IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE PREDICTIVE OF WHETHER THEY'RE GUILTY OR NOT.

WE HAVE A JUDGE TO DECIDE WHETHER SOMEONE IS GUILTY OR NOT OF THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO GO BEFORE A JURY OF THEIR PEERS, PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE, ALL OF THAT GOOD STUFF THAT WE BELIEVE IN.

IT IS TOO OFTEN BEING PERCEIVED TO KEEP GUILTY PEOPLE AWAY BEFORE THEY'VE HAD THAT OPPORTUNITY.

EVEN IF THEY ARE GUILTY.

WHO GETS TO JUDGE IT?

IT IS LIKE THE MOVIE REFERENCES, LIKE THE MINORITY REPORT WHERE THEY HAVE A PREDICTIVE WAY TO FIGURE OUT WHO WILL COMMIT A CRIME AND THEN PUT THEM THAT BEFORE HAND.

THAT'S NOT WHAT IT IS FOR.

THE MORE PEOPLE IN JAIL, IF WE'RE ALL IN JAIL AND NO ONE IS ON THE STREET, IT WILL BE ZERO CRIME.

IF YOU TAKE TO IT A RIDICULOUS POINT, THE MORE PEOPLE YOU KEEP BEHIND BARS, THE MORE SAFETY ON THE STREETS.

WE HAVE A SYSTEM BUILT AROUND FAIRNESS AND TRYING TO MAKE SURE THE GUILTY ARE FOUND GUILTY AND PUNISHED AND THOSE WHO ARE NOT HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW THAT THEY ARE NOT.

LET ME GO BACK TO YOU.

A FEW OF THE OTHER THINGS THAT WE'RE SEEING IS BEEN DESCRIBE AS REDUCED PROSECUTIONS.

LESS CASES BEING BROUGHT.

ALSO, WE KNOW THAT THERE HAS BEEN A DRAMATIC REDUCTION IN THE POLICY DESCRIBED AS STOP, ASK AND FRISK.

I SAW NUMBERS SAYING AS MANY AS 700,000 OF THOSE INSTANCES IN 2011, DOWN TO ABOUT 10,000 NOW.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE IMPACT?

EVEN JUST IN THE PAST TWO AND A HALF YEARS SINCE OUR COMMISSION CAME OUT WITH OUR REPORT.

SINCE THERE IS ADVOCACY, MAYOR de BLASIO SAID THE CITY WOULD CLOSE THE RIKERS JAIL, THERE HAVE ALREADY BEEN MASSIVE CHANGES.

TODAY THERE ARE 2,000 FEWER PEOPLE IN JAIL ON ANY GIVEN DAY THAN TWO YEARS AGO.

THAT'S A HUGE CHANGE.

IT IS MEASURED IN PEOPLE'S LIVES.

WHEN YOU LOOK AT PUBLIC SAFETY IN THE CITY, WE'RE SAFER TODAY OR AS SAFE AS WE'VE EVER BEEN.

SO IT'S PROOF.

WE DON'T HAVE TO JAIL OR INCARCERATE OURSELVES TO SAFETY.

WE CAN DO IT BETTER AND SMARTER.

LET ME COME BACK TO THE NOTION OF DIFFERENT JAILS.

I WANT TO GET TO THAT.

ONE OTHER THING I WANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT.

YOU HAVE THIS POST CONVICTION UNIT THAT YOU'VE CREATED IN YOUR OFFICE.

WHAT'S THE PURPOSE?

IT IS TO REEXAMINE THINGS THAT WE'VE DONE IN THE PAST.

A LOT OF THE EFFORT TO REDUCE INCARCERATION IS ON THE FRONT END.

IF WE'RE GOING TO BE SERIOUS ABOUT DOING THIS WORK, WE HAVE TO LOOK AT THE PEOPLE WHO ARE CURRENTLY IN JAIL.

EVERY MONTH I MEET PEOPLE WHO THE PRISON BELIEVES SHOULD BE OUT.

THAT THEY NO LONGER SERVE A PUBLIC SAFETY CONCERN.

YET THEY REMAIN IN.

THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THE 60s AND 70s YEARS OF AGE.

THIS IS THE MOST EXPENSIVE THING WE CAN DO IS TO HOUSE THEM UPSTATE.

WE HAVE TO MAKE SURE THE PEOPLE CAN BE RETURNED SAFELY AND REENTER SOCIETY IS DONE.

SO WE'LL LOOK AT THAT.

WE'RE ALSO LOOKING AT PAROLE AND CLEMENCY OPERATIONS AND WORK WITH THE GOVERNOR.

WE HAD A SAILING UNIT WHO WILL LOOK AT THESE OLD CASES.

PEOPLE SHOULD NOT WALK AROUND FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES.

ESPECIALLY ON LOW LEVEL OFFENSES WHERE CRIMINAL RECORDS PREVENT THEM FROM MOVING FORWARD.

ABOUT TWO YEARS AGO, ALBANY PASSED A SAILING STATUTE.

MOST PEOPLE DON'T KNOW IT EXISTS.

MY OFFICE NOW HAS A PORTAL WHERE PEOPLE CAN APPLY FOR FREE TO GET THEIR RECORDS SEALED.

INSTEAD OF THE D.A. FIGHTING THEM, THE D.A. WILL ASSIST IN GETTING THE RECORDS SEALED.

SO THAT'S A BIG COME POSSIBLY.

WE HAVE TOO MANY PEOPLE.

I'M GOING BACK TO MY TIME AS PROSECUTOR WHICH WAS A LONG TIME AGO.

I REMEMBER ESSENTIALLY WHEN PEOPLE HAVE EMOTIONS TO EXPUNGE RECORDS, TO SEAL RECORDS, YOUR POSITION WAS YOU OBJECTED TO IT.

BASICALLY SAYING, WE WANT ACCESS.

THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY MIGHT BE DOWN THE ROAD.

IT IS BETTER FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW TO HAVE ACCESS TO IT.

PAROLE.

UNIFORMLY, THE FIRST ELIGIBILITY.

WHY ARE WE SEEING A CHANGE AT LEAST IN YOUR OFFICE?

WHY ARE WE SEEING A CHANGE IN TERMS OF PROSECUTORS SAYING, LET'S LOOK AT SOME THINGS RATTLEALLY.

LET'S LOOK AT WHAT POSITION.

WE'VE SEEN THE TREMENDOUS HARM OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM HAS.

WE'VE GOT 2.2 MILLION IN PRISON ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

WE'VE GOT TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE IN STATE PRISON AND ON POST RELEASE SUPERVISION ON PAROLE.

AND WE REALIZE, IF WE ARE CONCERNED ABOUT A SYSTEM THAT PROTECTS PEOPLE, THAT WE HAVE TO SCALE IT DOWN SO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE UNDER SUPERVISION, AND THE PEOPLE WHO ARE IN JAIL, ARE THE FEW PEOPLE WHO WE BELIEVE ARE REALLY A THREAT TO PUBLIC SAFETY.

WE'VE CREATED A SYSTEM THAT IS TOO LARGE TO ACTUALLY PROTECT US.

WE'RE NOT GOING TO JAIL OUR WAY TO PUBLIC SAFETY.

AND WE HAVE TO GET BACK TO THE WORK OF SAYING, THE HARDEST THING GOVERNMENT CAN DO IS PUT SOMEONE IN PRISON.

AND TO RESERVE THAT FOR THE PEOPLE WHO REALLY NEED IT.

WE'RE TALKING ABOUT PERCEPTIONS.

THE PERCEPTION OF THE PUBLIC THAT WE'RE SAFE.

AND ALL WE NEED IS ONE PERSON WHO GETS OUT ON BAIL.

SOMEBODY WHO GETS OUT.

THE FIRST ELIGIBILITY ON PAROLE.

THERE'S NO OBJECTION TO COMMIT A HORRENDOUS CRIME.

AND ONE OF THOSE IS FOR THE PUBLIC TO SAY, YOU ARE NOT DOING YOUR JOBS.

YOUR PRIMARY JOB IS NOT TO IMPROVE THE LIVES OF SOMEBODY THAT HAS BEEN CONVICTED OF A CRIME.

YOUR PRIMARY JOB IS TO PROTECT ME OF WE HAVE A LITTLE LESS THAN A MINUTE HERE.

A TOUGH QUESTION TO ASK.

WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO TO GET THE MESSAGE OUT TO THE PUBLIC?

WE'RE DOING IT RIGHT NOW.

THE TOUGH DECISIONS ARE HARD BY DEFINITION.

ONE OF THE THINGS BENEATH THE SURFACE, AS WE DEBATE THESE REFORMS, THE EXAMPLE.

NOBODY WANTS A WILLY HORTON.

ONE PERSON GETS OUT AND DOES THE RIGHT THING.

IT IS OUR JOB TO NOW EDUCATE PEOPLE ABOUT WHAT IS JUST.

MIND YOU, THERE ARE FAMILIES THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF THEM WHO ARE AFFECTED BY PEOPLE WHO ARE BEING HELD IN JAIL UNJUSTLY HELD PRETRIAL.

THEY WILL SEE THE DIRECT BENEFIT.

FOR EVERYONE ELSE, WE'VE GOT TO EXPLAIN TO THEM THAT THERE IS NO REASON SOMEONE, THE BAIL EXAMPLE, WHO IS RICH.

ON THE STREETS DOING THE SAME THING.

THEY HAVE NOT BEEN CONVICTED.

IT IS IMPORTANT THAT WE HAVE AS MANY OF THESE CONVERSATIONS AS POSSIBLE TO GET THESE OUT.

THANK YOU.

I APPRECIATE YOUR TIME.

HOPEFULLY WE CAN GET TOGETHER AND CONTINUE THIS CONVERSATION AS WE MOVE DOWN THE ROAD.

THANK YOU FOR SHARING THE TIME WITH US.

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