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State lawmakers push for jail transparency reforms

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  • Staff Report 

New York lawmakers considered criminal justice reforms aimed at improving the transparency and oversight of county jails before the legislative session ends next month. Legislation to enhance local jail oversight and protections for incarcerated individuals advanced through the state Senate Crime Victims, Crime & Correction Committee, giving supporters hope for passage before June 6th.

Senator Julia Salazar, the bill’s sponsor, emphasized the need for better accountability and human rights protections in county jails. She proposed increasing the state Commission of Correction from three to nine members, including a formerly incarcerated person. Advocates like Rozann Greco and Alisha Kohn highlighted ongoing issues of abuse and lack of oversight in local jails, stressing the need for these reforms.

Additionally, Senator Robert Jackson introduced legislation to allow state and local lawmakers full access to local jails, inspired by an incident where his staff was barred from visiting Rikers Island. However, the bill faces challenges in an election year, with differing opinions on the necessity of expanding the Commission on Correction.