National Center for Access to Justice

The Rikers Report: Reversing the Criminalization of Poverty

At the Franklin Williams Commission’s, Mass Incarceration:  Mercy Matters, an all-day event oversubscribed at 250 people with attendance by NY judges at Fordham Law School this week, David Udell, NCAJ’s executive director & a co-director of the Fordham Law School Access to Justice Initiative, moderated a panel on the The Rikers Report: Reversing the Criminalization of Poverty, described as follows:

In A More Just New York City (“the Rikers Report”), an Independent Commission chaired by Jonathan Lippman, has urged closure of Rikers Island in 10 years, alongside a renewed investment in youth, diversion of low-level misdemeanors out of the criminal courts, expansion of services for the mentally ill, elimination of money bail, assurance of a speedy trial, the end of short jail sentences, and more. The panel will discuss goals that draw on society’s increasing recognition, undergirding the Report, that “a person’s freedom should not be determined by what’s in his or her wallet.”

The panelists were: Jonathan Lippman, Chair of the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice Reform and Incarceration Reform, former Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, of counsel to Latham & Watkins, and a co-director of the  Fordham Law School Access to Justice Initiative; Ann Cammett, Professor at CUNY Law School; and Josh Norkin, attorney in the Criminal Practice Special Litigation Unit of the Legal Aid Society and Director of the Society’s Decarceration Project.

This was the third panel discussion in the past 12 months at Fordham Law in which NCAJ has sought to highlight the web of connections between concerns about poverty, racial justice, the civil justice system, and the criminal justice system. A videotape of the panel discussion will be available soon, and a link will be added to this blog post. The full agenda from Mass Incarceration: Mercy Matters is available here and here. Information on the two earlier NCAJ-moderated panel discussions (with links to all videotapes) is on the Fordham Access to Justice Initiative web site, and in NCAJ’s blog posts, below:

The Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission promotes racial and ethnic fairness in the courts. Its members are judges, lawyers and court administrators appointed by the Chief Judge of the State of New York. For more, visit the Commision’s web site.

The National Center for Access to Justice based at Fordham Law School relies on data to accomplish policy reforms that help people obtain access to justice in the civil and criminal justice systems. For more, visit NCAJ’s web site, see NCAJ’s Justice Index, sign up for NCAJ’s blog.