criminal justice reform

The Rochester Police Accountability Board has asked for $5 million to hire a staff and expand its work. Last week, the mayor's proposed budget included that amount... an indication that the PAB could very well be in the position to pursue its mission more aggressively, and soon.

So how would the PAB spend that money? What would more than 50 staff members be tasked with doing? Our guests make the case:


Local activist group Free the People ROC has planned an advocacy campaign this week to garner support for Daniel’s Law

The state bill, named after Daniel Prude, who died in March 2020 after being restrained by Rochester police, would have mental health professionals respond to mental health and substance use emergencies instead of police. 

WXXI hosts its fifth live, televised forum. This edition will examine racial disparities in Rochester.

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: