Ensuring Equal Justice for All
Governor Cuomo has aggressively pushed smart and fair criminal justice policies to ensure New York State remains a national leader in progressive reform.
These reforms to the criminal justice system have resulted in a drastic reduction in mass-incarceration, while simultaneously enhancing public safety. Since Governor Cuomo took office, New York State has closed 26 adult and juvenile detention facilities – more than any other administration in state history. These prison closures eliminated over 7,000 beds resulting in an annual savings of over $200 million.
Since Governor Cuomo took office in 2011, the prison population has decreased by nearly 12,000 people – a 21% reduction. In fact, the current population is at its lowest level in thirty years and leads the nation with the lowest imprisonment rate of any large state. At the same time, New York State has remained the safest large state in the country with the lowest crime rate and incarceration rate among the most populous states. In 2017, reported index crime in the state reached an all-time low since reporting began in 1975.
Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York will continue to push progressive reforms to maintain New York’s status as the safest large state in the nation, without an unnecessary and counterproductive reliance on incarceration.
2019 Criminal Justice Accomplishments
Improving New York's Criminal Justice System
Following unprecedented declines in the prison population, the Budget authorizes DOCCS to close up to three prisons on an expedited schedule.
The age of criminal responsibility was raised to 18, ensuring minors who commit non-violent crimes are provided with age-appropriate services to lead productive lives.
In 2014, Governor Cuomo established the NYS Reentry Council to identify and alleviate the barriers to success felt by people with criminal convictions.
Solitary Confinement Reform
Enhancing Public Trust in Law Enforcement
Increases oversight of asset forfeiture funds and expenditures and requires enhanced reporting on demographic data concerning seized assets.
Requires increased reporting from law enforcement agencies on uses of force and directs the Division of Criminal Justice Services to annually report on use-of-force data collected.
In July 2015, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order to appoint the NYS Attorney General as a special prosecutor in matters relating to the deaths of unarmed civilians caused by law enforcement officers.
Increasing Fairness in the Criminal Justice System
In 2017, New York State adopted legislation that required the state to contribute funding the public defense services.
Governor Cuomo passed measures to require law enforcement to record interrogations of individuals accused of serious crimes to ensure evidence reliability and protect against false confessions.
New York requires DNA samples from anyone convicted of a felony or Penal Law misdemeanor, better enabling law enforcement to convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent.
New York fundamentally believes in the value of rehabilitation and community reintegration. Nowhere is this foundational principle more evident than in the practice of executive clemency.
Since 2012, Governor Cuomo has actively pardoned immigrants facing deportation, adults convicted long ago as teenagers, and others bearing the burden of a criminal record despite becoming productive members of society. The Governor has also commuted the prison sentences of men and women working tirelessly towards their own rehabilitation and the improvement of the lives around them.
Stay informed on New York State's clemency initiatives, including the State’s pro bono legal partnerships and voting rights restoration, as well as how to apply for clemency.