Thursday, August 20, 2009

On The Legislative Front: Department of Corrections Edition

Earlier this year, Council Member Letitia James introduced two bills that focused on greater accountability within the NYC Department of Correction (DOC).

The first was Int. 937-2009, which called on the commissioner of the DOC to report on census data and security indicators involving adolescents in NYC city jails. When the bill was introduced, the DOC reported general data which contained information regarding the overall jail population at Riker's Island. However, there was no separate information being routinely reported (or required to be reported) by the DOC specifically regarding “adolescents” who are housed separately from “adults” in Riker’s Island. This bill was signed into law by Mayor Bloomberg in May 2009, becoming local law 2009/029. This law will provide the Council and the rest of the public, information that is vital to proper oversight of the DOC, helping the Department closely monitor the most vulnerable individuals of the incarcerated community.

The second bill was Int. 938-2009, requiring the department of correction to develop a discharge plan for adolescents leaving city jails. This bill is currently being reviewed in the Council's Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services.

At the next Stated hearing in September (there's a Stated today, by the way), Council Member Letitia James will be introducing legislation that would require the commissioner of the DOC to report on race and ethnicity, zip code of residence, precinct of arrest and charged offense of adolescents admitted to city jails. This bill would allow the public, agencies, organizations, and elected officials to examine trends in the adolescent groups that are being arrested citywide.

Letitia looks forward to moving along with her efforts to address the rights of adolescents in City jails.

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