Criminal Justice Reform

Creating a fairer, safer, and more just system for all New Yorkers.

Criminal Justice Reform

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.  Governor Cuomo has closed 18 correctional facilities - more than any other administration in state history. These prison closures eliminated almost 10,000 beds resulting in an annual savings of about $300 million.

Since Governor Cuomo took office in 2011, the prison population has declined by more than 25,800 - a 45% reduction - from 57,229 to 31,419 people, as of March 31, 2021. In fact, the current DOCCS population is at its lowest level in more than 30 years, with New York leading the nation with the lowest imprisonment rate of any large state. At the same time, New York State has remained one of the safest large states in the country with low crime and incarceration rates.

Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York will continue to push progressive reforms to maintain New York’s status as one of the safest large states in the nation, without an unnecessary and counterproductive reliance on incarceration.

Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative

On June 12, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 203 requiring all local governments and police forces to develop a plan to modernize their policing strategies and strengthen relationships with the communities they serve.

Improving New York's Criminal Justice System

Professional Policing

The FY 2022 Budget prevents officers who commit serious or criminal misconduct from serving as officers in another police department.

Raise the Age

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.

Solitary Confinement Reform

On April 1, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed the HALT Solitary Confinement Act (S2836/A2277A) into law, reforming the practice of segregated confinement in New York State correctional facilities. 

Enhancing Public Trust in Law Enforcement

Civil Asset Forfeiture

Increases oversight of asset forfeiture funds and expenditures and requires enhanced reporting on demographic data concerning seized assets.

Use-of-Force Reporting

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.

Special Prosecutor

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.

2020 'Say Their Name' Reform Package

Reducing Inequality in Policing

Repealing 50-a of Civil Rights Law
Police officer personnel records involving serious misconduct can now be disclosed, increasing transparency and building trust between law enforcement and their communities.
Banning Chokeholds & Independent Prosecutor
The law bans the practice of using chokeholds by law enforcement and designates the Attorney General as an independent prosecutor for matters relating to civilian deaths.
Prohibiting False Race-Based 911 Reports
Calling 911 to report a non-emergency incident involving a member of a protected class without reason to suspect a crime or imminent threat is now a civil rights violation.

Increasing Fairness in the Criminal Justice System

2019 Criminal Justice Accomplishments

Bail Reform
Eliminates cash bail for most defendants to ensure an individual’s wealth is no longer the determining factor for pre-trial detention while awaiting their day in court.
Discovery Reform
Requires the prosecution and defense to share all information in their possession well in advance of trial and enables defendants to review evidence the prosecution possesses prior to pleading guilty to a crime.
Speedy Trial Reform
Addresses excessively long pre-trial periods to reduce the backlog of criminal cases by requiring courts to increase accountability, reducing unnecessary delays, and ensuring all parties are prepared for trial.


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.

Find additional information on New York State's Clemency Program.


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