criminal justice reform

We're joined by Amy Bach, author of “Ordinary Injustice: How America Holds Court.” Bach is the CEO of Measures for Justice, which gathers and analyzes criminal justice data from across the country. The organization’s work has influenced policy in the court system.

Bach will host a virtual presentation for the National Women’s Hall of Fame next week, but first, she and fellow panelists from the event join us on Connections to discuss injustices in the courts and the role of women in criminal justice reform. Our guests:

  • Amy Bach, CEO of Measures for Justice, and author of “Ordinary Injustice: How America Holds Court”
  • Shani Curry Mitchell, Esq., municipal attorney with the City of Rochester
  • Sharon Stiller, J.D., partner and director of the employment law practice at Abrams, Fensterman, Fensterman, Eisman, Formato, Ferrara, Wolf & Carone, LLP; and board member for the National Women’s Hall of Fame

Emily Hunt for WXXI News

Law enforcement leaders and some Republicans in the New York State Legislature are pushing back against recent criminal justice reforms approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Democratic-led Legislature. They say a recent uptick in violent crimes might mean the new laws went too far, and they would like to see the policies reversed.

April Franklin / WXXI News

Hundreds of people turned out again in downtown Rochester on Saturday as part of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations that have been going on since last month after the death of George Floyd, who died while in police custody in Minneapolis.

On Monday, local public defenders marched in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. As reported by WXXI's Noelle Evans, it was one of many public defender-led protests across the nation that called attention to systemic racism and police violence.

This hour, we're joined by four local African American public defenders who discuss the systemic racism they say they see in the justice system, and the reforms for which they are advocating. Our guests:

  • Danielle Ponder, diversity and inclusion officer for the Monroe County Public Defender's Office
  • Natalie Knott, assistant public defender with the Monroe County Public Defender's Office
  • Katherine Ejimadu, assistant public defender with the Monroe County Public Defender's Office
  • Rob Turner, senior assistant public defender with the Monroe County Public Defender's Office

Amy Bach, president and executive director of Measures for Justice, returns to Connections. Bach is a Rochester native whose work is aimed at facilitating fairness in the criminal justice system through data-driven initiatives.

She’ll be giving a public presentation at the Harley School, but first, she joins us to discuss updates with Measures for Justice, legislative action in various states, and her thoughts on bail reform in New York. In studio:

  • Amy Bach, president and executive director of Measures for Justice

One week after new bail reform laws went into effect in New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling for changes. The reforms ended cash bail for many lower-level alleged offenses, but a rash of anti-Semitic incidents and other alleged crimes have led critics of the legislation to push for adjustments or an overhaul.

Our guests discuss the state of bail reform and possible unintended consequences. In studio:

Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter recently wrote an op-ed for the Democrat and Chronicle in which he called for the state to reverse its bail reform measure. Baxter says the legislation could lead to unintended consequences when it comes to issues related to safety, addiction, and more. But public defenders and activists disagree, and say bail reform is a necessary part of criminal justice reform. Our guests debate the issue. In studio:

Law enforcement groups have pushed back against criminal justice changes that take effect in January, including the end to most forms of cash bail. But the advocates who fought for the changes say they are long overdue and will restore fairness to the system. 

Beginning in January, New York ends cash bail for all nonviolent crimes and will require that prosecutors tell people accused of crimes the details of all of the evidence they have against them within 15 days. 

Jeremy Moule / Rochester City Newspaper

Rev. Lewis Stewart, faith leaders and criminal justice advocates are asking Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo not to sign a controversial law. 

The measure, passed this month, makes it illegal to annoy, alarm or threaten the personal safety of first responders and various forms of law enforcement. Those who do, would face a hefty fine and possibly jail time. It passed in a party-line vote earlier this month. The bill’s co-author, County Legislator Karla Boyce, said she was inspired to introduce the bill by recent instances of first responders put in danger.

James Brown / WXXI

A number of law enforcement leaders joined forces in Rochester and statewide Thursday to ask Governor Andrew Cuomo to slow the state’s move toward criminal justice reform. It's part of a statewide show of force by the law enforcement community. One common concern expressed in Rochester was about discovery. 

Livingston County Sheriff Thomas Dougherty said his department makes many drug-related arrests on Interstate 390. One reform requires police agencies like his to process, test and turn over all evidence to defense attorneys within 15 days.