FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
DA Eric Gonzalez Announces Justice 2020 Initiative
Committee of Criminal Justice Experts, Reformers and Community Leaders
Will Advise on Reforms and Innovative Approaches to Keep Brooklyn Safe and
Strengthening Community Trust in the Criminal Justice System
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced a groundbreaking initiative aimed at keeping Brooklyn safe and strengthening community trust in the criminal justice system by ensuring fairness and equal justice for all. Justice 2020 will rely initially on a Launch Committee consisting of criminal justice reform experts, defense groups, service providers, law enforcement, formerly incarcerated individuals, clergy and community leaders. The committee – co-chaired by Medgar Evers College President Rudy Crew and former New York Chief Judge and currently of Counsel at Latham & Watkins LLP Jonathan Lippman – will meet in subcommittees that will present recommendations to the DA in the spring. These recommendations will be integrated into a plan that will be shared with the public as a set of goals aimed at achieving this vision of reform by the year 2020.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “We have a historic opportunity in Brooklyn to create a national model of what a truly progressive prosecutor’s office can be. I plan to achieve that goal by consulting a committee of experts and creating a set of guidelines that will focus on those who do the most harm, while reducing incarceration and finding new ways to hold accountable those who can safely be diverted or deflected entirely from the criminal justice system.
“We will use data to support and guide innovation and to reduce racial disparities in our system, work in collaboration with stake holders and community partners to foster safe and healthy communities, and enhance our transparency and accountability. This vision will govern the direction of my Office and I will task my staff with making measurable progress towards achieving the committee’s recommendations by 2020.”
Dr. Crew said, “I believe the Task Force is well positioned to develop the kind of transformational ideas that emerge when we look at issues in a more holistic and integrated way. The Launch Committee is composed of a diverse set of institutions that are all too often isolated in their own echo chambers. Until we understand the web of mutuality that exists between the courts, schools, police and our communities, we will continue to falter when it comes to justice. Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez is defining and leading a new approach to the complexity of achieving greater equity in the criminal justice system.”
Judge Lippman said, “I am so pleased to chair DA Gonzalez’ Justice 2020 Initiative, along with Rudy Crew. DA Gonzalez is a rare leader, who understands that prosecutors can ensure fairness and trust in the criminal justice system at the same time that public safety is protected. Criminal justice reform is not for the short-winded. I have every confidence that DA Gonzalez has the vision and the determination to make the Justice 2020 Initiative a shining model for the country in progressive criminal justice reform.”
The District Attorney said that Brooklyn is uniquely positioned to take on this endeavor as a true partnership with community organizations and leaders – and serve as a blueprint for reform that can be emulated across the country. The borough is safer than it’s ever been as 2017 ended with the lowest number of homicides and shootings since record-keeping began. The late DA Ken Thompson and DA Gonzalez have put in place notable reform-minded programs, such as a bail policy that decreased reliance on cash bail, an immigration policy aimed at minimizing collateral consequences of criminal convictions, a Conviction Review Unit that’s considered a national model, and an initiative to vacate hundreds of thousands of outstanding summons warrants that were generated due to failures to pay fines for minor infractions.
Justice 2020 will build on these strong foundations, representing the first time that the people of Brooklyn are asked to actively participate in reforming their criminal justice system. Importantly, any reforms implemented as part of the initiative will not compromise public safety, which remains the DA’s highest priority.
The Launch Committee, which has over 60 members, is divided into sub-committees that focus on different facets of the justice system in Brooklyn, including: alternatives to prosecution and restorative justice; mental health; case handling reforms; violence prevention and gun strategies; civil rights and policing; data and transparency; professional responsibility and conviction integrity; among others. The Committee’s purpose is to provide fresh, outside perspectives and ideas to help the DA advance his vision and reform agenda. Each member brings significant expertise and experience to the task; many are nationally recognized experts in their fields.
Justice 2020 Launch Committee Members
- Rudy Crew (co-chair) – President of Medgar Evers College.
- Jonathan Lippman (co-chair) – former Chief Judge of New York State and of Counsel at Latham & Watkins LLP.
- Richard Aborn – President of the Citizens Crime Commission and Partner at Constantine Cannon.
- Debo Adegbile – Partner at WilmerHale.
- Alyssa Aguilera – Political Director of VOCAL-NY.
- Rev. Lawrence Aker – Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church.
- Debbie Almontaser – Founder and CEO of Bridging Cultures Group.
- Murad Awawdeh – Director of Political Engagement at the New York Immigration Coalition.
- Chiraag Bains – Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Law School and Open Society Foundations.
- Ana Bermudez – Commissioner of the NYC Department of Probation.
- Matthew Blaisdell – Immigration and Nationality Lawyer.
- Alvin Bragg – Chief Deputy Attorney General at the NY Attorney General’s Office.
- Brian Byrd – Program Officer at the New York State Health Foundation.
- Carl Charles – Transgender Rights Project Law Fellow at Lambada Legal.
- Chris Coffey – Leader of NYC Practice at Tusk Strategies, where he represents the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.
- Khalil Cumberbatch – Associate VP of Policy at the Fortune Society.
- Reagan Daly – Research Director at the CUNY Institute for state and Local Governance.
- Michelle de la Uz – Executive Director of Fifth Avenue Committee.
- LB Eisen – Senior Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice.
- Mishi Faruqee – National Field Director of the Youth First Initiative.
- Rebecca Fischer – Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.
- Carol Fisler – Director of Mental Health Court and Alternative-to-Detention Programs at the Center for Court Innovation.
- Kesi Foster – Coordinator at Urban Youth Collaborative, Make the Road NY.
- Jeffery Foster – Communication and Development Director at VOCAL-NY.
- Kassandra Frederique – New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance.
- Nancy Ginsburg – Director of the Adolescent Intervention and Diversion Project of the Legal Aid Society.
- Colvin Grannum – President of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation.
- Ames Grawert – Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice.
- Judy Greene – Director of Justice Strategies.
- David Greenfield – CEO of the Met Council.
- Daliah Heller – Clinical Professor at CUNY School of Public Health.
- Andrew Hoan – President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.
- Robert Holdman – Ethics and Best Practices.
- Michael Jacobson – Executive Director of the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance.
- Jennifer Jones Austin – CEO and Executive Director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies.
- Hillary Kunins – Assistant Commissioner at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
- Harlan Levy – Partner at Boies Schiller Flexner LLP.
- Ann-Marie Louison – Director of Adult Behavioral Health Programs at CASES.
- Tina Luongo – Attorney-in-Charge of the Criminal Practice of the Legal Aid Society.
- Jane Manning – Director of Advocacy at NOW-NYC.
- Adam Mansky – Director of Operations at the Center for Court Innovation.
- Brian Meagher – Executive Agency Counsel at the NYPD’s Office of Crime Control Strategies.
- Nina Morrison – Senior Staff Attorney at the Innocence Project.
- Rev. Vivian Nixon – Executive Director of College and Community Fellowship.
- Courtney Oliva – Executive Director of the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law at NYU.
- JoAnne Page – President and CEO of the Fortune Society.
- Chauncey Parker – Executive Assistant District Attorney and Special Policy Advisor at the Manhattan DA’s Office.
- Elizabeth Perez – Brooklyn Borough Representative of the United Federation of Teachers.
- Rabbi Joseph Potasnik – Executive Vice President of the New York Board of Rabbis.
- Insha Rahman – Project Director at the Vera Institute of Justice.
- Reem Ramadan – Community Organizer at the Arab American Association of New York.
- Meg Reiss – Executive Director of the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
- Cheryl Roberts –Director of Greenburger Center for Social and Criminal Justice.
- Dawn Ryan – Attorney-in-Charge, Brooklyn Criminal Defense Practice at The Legal Aid Society.
- Vincent Schiraldi – Senior Research Scientist at Columbia University.
- Lisa Schreibersdorf – Founder and Executive Director of Brooklyn Defender Services.
- Danielle Sered – Executive Director of Common Justice.
- Sideya Sherman – Executive Vice President for Community Engagement and Partnerships at the New York City Housing Authority.
- Gail Smith – Director of the Women in Prison Project at the Correctional Association of New York.
- Daniel Tietz – CEO of Bailey House.
- Nick Turner – President of the Vera Institute of Justice.
- Jim Walden – Partner at Walden, Macht & Haran.
- Rev. Johnny Ray Youngblood – Pastor of Mount Pisgah Baptist Church.
The Director of the Launch Committee is Jill Harris, Special Advisor to the District Attorney. She recently joined the Brooklyn DA’s Office after serving as the Deputy Director of the ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice. She previously worked as the Managing Director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives at the Drug Policy Alliance and as a trial attorney at the Legal Aid Society.