Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the creation of the New York State Council on Community Justice, an advisory group of state and local stakeholders that will recommend measures to further improve the effectiveness and fairness of the state’s criminal justice system. Convened by Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado and Division of Criminal Justice Services Commissioner Rossana Rosado, the Council will review existing State policies and programs and propose new measures to strengthen the State’s efforts to advance equity, reduce disparities, and decrease recidivism to make communities safer and stronger. The council includes local and state criminal justice practitioners, professionals from community-based organizations, and leaders in higher education.

“This advisory council will help identify issues within our criminal justice system and recommend solutions with the goal of ensuring that programs and services are evidence-based, effective and provide justice-involved individuals with the help they need to thrive,” Governor Hochul said. “I commend these professionals for stepping up to serve their community and look forward to working with them.”

“This is the work of making our communities stronger, fairer, and safer,” said Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado. “This is the work of making our communities whole. I am honored to chair this council, as we work to develop strategies, policies, and practices that will set our justice system on the right path for generations to come.”

Governor Hochul also issued a proclamation designating July 16 through 22 as Pretrial, Probation and Parole Supervision Week in New York State to recognize the important work done by those professionals.

The Council met in New York City for the first time this afternoon and is expected to meet on a quarterly basis. Its members will work closely with the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, and state Commission of Correction, among other agencies. The Council will assess the state’s work in prevention, diversion, corrections, and re-entry, and propose ways to modernize policies, programs and initiatives so they focus on rehabilitation and treatment, rather than incarceration, and better assist individuals released from prison so they can lead productive, crime-free lives. The goal is to further inform the state’s work to keep New Yorkers safe and deliver an equitable justice system that works for all, particularly communities that have been historically and disproportionately harmed.

Governor Hochul has made public safety her number one priority, securing the most criminal justice system funding in a generation; and increasing investments to improve opportunities for young people and families and strengthen communities. The Council’s work is another component of Governor Hochul’s comprehensive plan to fight gun violence and violent crime, improve community safety and increase public trust in the criminal justice system.

Division of Criminal Justice Services Commissioner Rossana Rosado said, “Our top priority at DCJS is ensuring our criminal justice system is fair and equitable for all. We also recognize the importance of making communities whole, and that process begins by identifying inequities and supporting programs and services that address those disparities and increase opportunity for individuals and families. This work would not be possible without Governor Hochul’s vision and record-level funding community-based organizations, and all facets of the criminal justice system.”

New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Acting Commissioner Daniel F. Martuscello III said, “Improving public safety by providing continuity of care and preparation for reentry into the community is at the core of DOCCS’ mission, and the New York State Council on Community Justice is a fantastic pathway to bolster these efforts. I applaud Governor Hochul for working to create this important advisory group and look forward to collaborating with Lieutenant Governor Delgado, fellow state officials, and members of community organizations to improve the outcomes of individuals involved in the criminal justice system in New York State.”

While New York State has the lowest incarceration rate in the country when compared to other states with more than 10 million residents, racial disparities in its criminal justice system persist. From 2016 through 2020, people of color comprised 33 to 34 percent of New York’s adult population but represented between 66 to 71 percent of all felony prison sentences. The Council will consider the ways in which the state can foster opportunities and remove obstacles to health and mental health care; employment; housing; and social services and supports, for example, and propose new measures and/or changes that both improve public safety and the effectiveness and equity of the justice system.

The Council aims to build upon the work of the state’s Council on Community Re-Entry and Reintegration, which helped remove barriers individuals face when returning home after serving prison sentences. Chaired by Commissioner Rosado since before she entered state service, that Council focused on removing barriers faced by the approximately 25,000 individuals annually returning to their communities after serving prison sentences. Its work helped lay the groundwork for restoring the right to vote for people on parole; removing outright bans on occupational licenses; implementing fair-chance hiring at state agencies; and prohibiting discrimination at state-financed housing based solely on an individual’s criminal record, among other initiatives.

In addition to Lieutenant Governor Delgado, Commissioner Rosado, and Acting Commissioner Martuscello, the following state officials will serve on the Council on Community Justice: Allen Riley, Chair of the state Commission of Correction; Darryl Towns, Chair of the state Board of Parole; Jamie Frank, SUNY Associate Vice Chancellor for Policy Implementation; Joseph Zayas, state Office of Court Administration Chief Administrative Judge; Karol Mason, President of John Jay College of Criminal Justice; and Marcos Soler, Governor’s Deputy Secretary for Public Safety. Leaders from the following agencies and community organizations round out the council’s membership: Bard Prison Initiative, Bronx District Attorney’s Office, Center for Community Alternatives, Center for Employment Opportunities, Center for Justice Innovation, Columbia Justice Lab, Common Justice, The Doe Fund, Erie County District Attorney’s Office, Fortune Society, Hour Children, Hudson Link, Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, LEAD National Support Bureau, Legal Action Center, The Legal Aid Society, New York State Defenders Association, Osborne Association, REFORM Alliance, Vera Institute of Justice, and Women’s Prison Association.

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including law enforcement training; collection and analysis of statewide crime data; maintenance of criminal history information and fingerprint files; administrative oversight of the state’s DNA databank, in partnership with the New York State Police; funding and oversight of probation and community correction programs; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the State’s Sex Offender Registry. Follow the agency on Facebook and Twitter.

The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) is responsible for the care, custody, and treatment of individuals sentenced to state prison, working with these incarcerated individuals to ensure successful re-entry into the community and supervising those who are placed on parole. That’s our Department’s mission and it’s the guide we follow to carry out the very serious responsibility entrusted to us. Follow DOCCS on Facebook and Twitter.