New York City– Legal Action Center offered high praise for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the “Right Priorities” criminal justice initiative he announced yesterday. Governor Cuomo’s initiatives would prevent young and other at-risk people from entering the criminal justice system and provide new support in the criminal justice system to help people succeed in the community.
LAC especially applauds Governor Cuomo’s inclusion of policies and funding we have long supported, including:
- An additional $1 million to expand alternatives to incarceration (ATI);
- Transitional employment and housing supports for people recently released from prison;
- Efforts to create new Medicaid funding to support the seamless provision of medical and mental health services for people with addiction, mental health needs and chronic medical conditions;
- $7.5 million from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s for college-level programs, degrees and certifications in State prisons;
- An agreement with the Office of Court Administration to limit access to criminal records of 16 and 17 year-olds granted conditional pardons by the Governor;
- A continued commitment to raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York;
- Funding for community schools and employment programs that keep youth off the path to justice-involvement.
“It’s gratifying to live in a state where the Governor and Legislature are champions of smart public safety policies that keep more people out of prison and increase reentry success for people living in the community,” said LAC’s Director of New York Policy Sebastian Solomon. “Governor Cuomo has extended New York’s tradition of national leadership in criminal justice with his longstanding support for ATI, reentry services, and drug sentencing reform and now this excellent package of groundbreaking public policy reforms.”
“These initiatives underscore the Governor’s keen sense of the relationship between health and public safety,” said Anita Marton, LAC’s Deputy Director and Vice President. “Expanding access to addiction and mental health treatment and addressing other healthcare needs have to be part of any serious strategy for increasing public safety and improving quality of life in New York communities.”
“Governor Cuomo’s “Right Priorities” initiative builds on his and the Legislature’s lifesaving efforts to improve the criminal justice system, increase access to addiction care and combat the heroin epidemic,” said LAC Director and President Paul Samuels. “In his press release, Governor Cuomo said ‘It can’t be that every door is closed except the revolving one back into prison.’ LAC has long worked to close that revolving door and open a pathway to health for New Yorkers with addictions and criminal-justice involvement. We know the huge impact these reforms will have for people and families across the state and are grateful to the Governor for moving them forward.” Samuels is a member of Governor Cuomo’s New York Council on Community Re-Entry and Reintegration.
Read the Governor’s press release and see video of the announcement here.