NYC Public Advocate's Statement On The Veto Override Votes To Ban Solitary Confinement And Promote Police Transparency

January 30th, 2024

Press Release

NEW YORK: New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams released the following statement after the City Council voted 42-9 to override vetoes of his legislation to ban solitary confinement in city jails and require basic policing transparency.

"These votes are a victory for transparency and public safety in our city, no matter what this administration would like New Yorkers to believe. Because of the advocates, the impacted individuals and families, the Speaker, City Council, and everyone who worked on this legislation, we have taken major steps forward in the difficult work of making our jails and our streets safer. It’s an important day for everyone committed to the hard work of advancing true public safety, made all the harder by a relentless misinformation campaign from this administration. It could take years to undo the damage from an intentional campaign of dishonesty. 

"The How Many Stops Act is a reporting bill. It is not the burden that the administration pretends it is – unless they choose to make it one. But let’s be clear, while the reporting is not as onerous as described, it is necessary and its impact is essential, building on the work of a decade ago and preventing us from going back to the bad old days. This isn’t preventing police work, it’s part of police work. It will help us get basic data on how policing practices are in effect on our streets, and craft public safety policy moving forward. It's clear we need change informed by data, not hysteria. 

"Banning the lasting vestiges of solitary confinement – and the use of isolation to try and change behavior– is a moral and governing imperative. Isolation causes lasting harm, causes recidivism, causes more violence, makes our jails less safe for people on both sides of the bars, and our city less safe. Our law allows for separation, for de-escalation, but not the harm which isolation is universally acknowledged to cause. Instead, it implements programming that might actually improve behavior and outcomes. We cannot keep the status quo of crisis on Rikers, and if we want different results, we have to do something different – but based on what we know can work.

"I sincerely hope that the administration will stop wasting time with misinformation and instead work with us on the most streamlined, effective way to implement these bills. The past several weeks of resources used to obstruct, and ultimately, to absurdly, dishonestly blame these bills for every unsafe incident in our city, have been harmful. We don’t have to guess the impact of how misinformation will work – too many who know better, including the mayor, have been doing it with bail reform for years despite evidence to the contrary — harming public safety discussions, public trust, and public policy in the process. When the public knows what these bills actually do, they support them, and the principles at their core. New Yorkers deserve to be safe and feel safe – these bills only serve to help achieve the first, while any continued misinformation and fear-mongering from the administration will prevent the second. 

"Having seen multiple vetoes overridden in just over two years in office, I hope that the mayor will now recognize the need to collaborate and prioritize true, holistic public safety solutions over politics."

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