We are New York State’s foremost criminal justice reform coalition, comprised of more than a dozen local and national organizations on the leading edge of civil rights, public policy, and legal advocacy. We believe it’s time that New York fixes an outdated system that unfairly preys on lower income communities and communities of color. New Yorkers United for Justice will push the legislature and the governor to ensure reforms to a broken system and create opportunities for thousands of New Yorkers.


Opponents of pretrial reform legislation have deliberately mislead the public about the new law’s impact.  We are holding them accountable.

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About NYUJ

New Yorkers United for Justice is a statewide coalition of diverse nonprofit organizations engaged in New York and convened by two formerly incarcerated New Yorkers – Khalil A. Cumberbatch and Topeka K. Sam, both nationally recognized criminal justice reform advocates – that is leading a movement bringing urgent criminal justice reform to the Empire State. NYUJ is pushing for bold legislative action to fix a deeply flawed criminal justice system that punishes the poor and communities of color, tears families apart, and makes New Yorkers less safe. NYUJ believes that a system that ensures equal access to justice for anyone accused in New York State, regardless of age, race, ethnicity or social economic status, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or religion, must be the standard.

To reach NYUJ’s shared goal of criminal justice reform in the State of New York through urgent, mass decarceration, NYUJ supports action to address the following categories:

  • Pretrial Reform
    • Prompt Access to Counsel
    • Elimination of Cash Bail/Reform of the overall Bail Process
    • Discovery Reform
    • Enforcement of the Right to a Speedy Trial
  • Reforming Civil Asset Forfeiture
  • Expungement of Low-Level Drug Offenses, Including Marijuana Sentences
  • Probation and Parole Reform
  • Robust use of Executive Clemency
  • Reducing the Collateral Consequences of Arrest and Conviction

Guiding Principles

New Yorkers United for Justice is dedicated to urgently fighting for meaningful fixes to New York’s outdated criminal justice system by pushing the legislature and the governor for systemic change every legislative session. As a coalition, NYUJ has created and agreed on a set of guiding principles which we use to analyze legislation and/or policy, determine our position on legislation and/or policy, and provide a framework of our overall efforts to reform criminal justice in New York State.

View Principles


Khalil A. Cumberbatch

Currently serves as Chief Strategist at New Yorkers United for Justice a coalition of broad and diverse organizations whose goal is to pass criminal justice reform legislation in New York State. He previously served as Associate Vice President of Policy at the Fortune Society, a reentry organization whose goal is to build people and not prisons.  He is also a lecturer at Columbia University School of Social Work.

Topeka K. Sam

Serves as a Senior Advisor at New Yorkers United for Justice and is the Founder and Executive Director of The Ladies of Hope Ministries – The LOHM – whose mission is to help disenfranchised and marginalized women and girls transition back into society through resources and access to high-quality education, entrepreneurship, spiritual empowerment, advocacy and housing. She is also the co-founder of HOPE HOUSE NYC – a safe housing space for women and girls. In 2018, she became Director for the #Dignity Campaign at @cut50 where she has led a national effort to passing legislation in 8 states to make sure that the conditions of confinement are more humane for women and girls. Topeka serves on the board of directors for Grassroots Leadership and is now the first formerly incarcerated person on the board of The Marshall Project.

She has worked and continues to work selflessly and relentlessly in her fight for the dignity, decriminalization and decarceration of women and girls. Topeka has accomplished this and more since her release from Federal Prison May 2015.

More about NYUJ

Watch our latest videos to learn more about NYUJ and our work.

Coalition Members