Social Justice

Whenever one group is treated differently or denied protection under our laws, it undermines the foundation on which our country was built. Discrimination, whether against two people who love each other and want to marry, against a family whose only transgression is wanting to make a better life for their children in American, or against a religious institution seeking to locate near one of the most contested sites in the city, is patently un-American. The City Council should act as force against hate and intolerance, as well as fighting to bring those who live in the shadows more fully into our society.

Legislative Update: Responding to Arizona and Fighting for Juvenile Justice Reform

I'm pleased to let you know about two City Council resolutions that passed the Council at our meeting last Thursday.

Smarter, fairer funding for juvenile justice alternatives:  Right now, the State of New York essentially bribes the City to send young people who present little or no risk to public safety to juvenile jails (officially, "secure detention facilities") like Spofford - even when judges, the City, and prosecutors believe that treatment, rehabilitation, and alternatives programs would produce lower rates of recidivism and therefore a safer and better city.  The State pays half the cost of detention, but nothing for community-based alternatives. Councilmember Sara Gonzalez and I co-sponsored Resolution 201, which passed the City Council last week, calling upon New York State to develop a more equitable method of billing New York City for the placement of young offenders, so we can choose strategies that work best. State Senator Velmanette Montgomery is leading the effort to change the funding formula in Albany.

Just and comprehensive immigration reform
: When last week Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed the harsh, mean-spirited, and likely unconstitutional new immigration law, the City Council moved quickly. We passed Resolution 162-A, sponsored by Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito, which criticizes the new Arizona law, and calls on Congress and President Obama to pass a just, humane, and comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2010. All around the city, New Yorkers have been taking part in actions to decry the Arizona law and call attention to the need for immigration reform now.