TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY, SAFETY, UNITY: NEW YORKERS UNITED FOR JUSTICE APPLAUDS REPEAL OF 50-A IN NEW YORK

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, June 9, 2020
Contact: Jason Kaplan | kaplan@skdknick.com

TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY, SAFETY, UNITY: NEW YORKERS UNITED FOR JUSTICE APPLAUDS REPEAL OF 50-A IN NEW YORK

NEW YORK, NY – It’s a new day in New York as state legislators came together with overwhelming support from all corners of the state to fully repeal 50-a. The removal of this law will ensure transparency, accountability, safety and make police discipline records available to the public – a longstanding priority for legislative leaders, law enforcement and community advocates alike. Following Senate passage, New Yorkers United For Justice (NYUJ), a coalition of leading local and national criminal justice and public safety organizations commended Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Carl Heastie and their respective caucuses who joined New York voters, unified in their demand for a more accountable and transparent criminal justice system.

In a statement, New Yorkers United for Justice Chief Strategist, Khalil A. Cumberbatch said:

“Our criminal justice system, in order to build and maintain public trust, must be transparent. Even more so as it relates to law enforcement agencies – and that means accountability and public scrutiny for police. Thanks to years of advocacy from countless groups, especially the #SaferNYAct coalition, as well as broad public support and longstanding buy-in from lawmakers across the state, today, by repealing 50-a, New York State’s legislature has come down on the right side of history and put fairness first. We look forward to Governor Cuomo’s signature, as he has pledged to swiftly do – and look forward to a thoughtful statewide implementation of this much needed repeal.”

In a statement, New Yorkers United for Justice Board Chair and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Executive Director, Norman L. Reimer, said:

“New York affirmed today that our State stands for transparency in policing, a vital step toward restoring confidence in law enforcement which is so undermined when a  black or brown person, like George Floyd or Eric Garner, dies as a result of an encounter with an officer with a history of misconduct.  With the full of repeal 50-a, police accountability takes a step closer to becoming a reality by allowing misconduct engaged in by a police officer to be accessible by the public. Although we are many steps away from having a truly just, fair, and safer criminal justice system, this is an important step in the right direction. This achievement is owed to the perseverance and efforts of dedicated advocates and legislators from suburban, urban and rural districts who unified with a mission to pass real reform under the leadership Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins who rose to meet the moment.”

In a statement, REFORM Alliance CEO, Van Jones, said:

“Sunlight is the best disinfectant against the abuse of power. Repealing New York’s Section 50-A secrecy law will expose misconduct in the law enforcement community, create more accountability for those who overstep their authority, and distinguish them from law enforcement who protect and serve all New Yorkers the right way. Eliminating Section 50-A isn’t a panacea, but it’s a smart first step to lifting the curtain on law enforcement abuse and delivering more justice for victims.”

In a statement, NAACP New York State Conference President, Hazel Dukes, said:

“We at the New York State Conference of the NAACP have long worked alongside our legislative leaders to realize the repeal of 50-a and the passage of these other important reforms. We stand with them in their efforts to permanently change our system for the better, and we look forward to the Governor signing these bills.”

In a statement, New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers President, Timothy W. Hoover, said:

“That a statute whose legacy is shielding police misconduct from public view should have resided in the Civil Rights Law, of all places, is the cruelest of ironies. Civil Rights Law 50-a has been a blight on the fair administration of justice since the day it was enacted.  We commend the Legislature for taking another step toward a rational, enlightened and fairer criminal-justice system. There is much more to be done to ensure that all New Yorkers receive equal treatment from their government, but make no mistake, this is a concrete achievement.”

In a statement, FreedomWorks Foundation Vice President of Legislative affairs, Jason Pye, said:

“Greater accountability and transparency in government are rooted in the conservative principles of limited government. That is why the public deserves to have the ability to review personnel records of law enforcement and see if there were sanctions put in place when there was a substantiated complaint of misconduct. While Albany lawmakers repealing 50-A, in and of itself, is not a panacea, it’s a step in the right direction for New York to begin to provide more accountability and transparency.”

In a statement, released by the Brennan Center for Justice Senior Counsel Taryn Merkl said:

“Albany should seize this moment to repeal 50-a. This is a long-needed step towards police accountability, which is critical to winning and maintaining the public’s trust. Without that trust, law enforcement can’t serve their communities effectively.” 

In a statement, Jewish Coalition on Criminal Justice Reform Director, Rabbi Daniel Atwood said:

“The Torah commands us to “not stand over the blood of your fellow.” In the wake of recent events, we are called to act. We recognize the difficult work the NYPD does, and the passing of 50-a will help increase transparency and trust between police and communities by identifying bad actors in the police.”

In a statement, Hispanic Federation President, Frankie Miranda said:

“The murder of George Floyd underscored the history of our nation’s darkest moments — civilians, overwhelmingly from communities of color, being targeted and killed by police officers who have long disciplinary records. Officers who displayed dangerous misconduct remained on the force because their records remained confidential and out of public view. We now join the call to reverse that policy and add transparency and accountability for the safety of our communities,” said Hispanic Federation President Frankie Miranda. “A measure pending in the New York state Senate to repeal ’50-a’ to allow public disclosure of police misconduct and disciplinary actions would bring these documents out of the darkness and protect our civil rights and our democracy.”

The criminal justice reform coalition New Yorkers United for Justice (NYUJ) has been prominent in the push for 50-a’s repeal. Members of the coalition including Brennan Center for Justice, FreedomWorks Foundation, Hispanic Federation, NAACP, NAACP New York Conference, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NYSACDL), the National Urban League, New York Urban League, and the REFORM Alliance have spoken out about 50-a. Supporters of the coalition’s call for repeal include Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice.

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