Promote Justice And Equal Rights, and Build Trust Between New Yorkers And Government
We live in the safest big city in the United States with the lowest incarceration rate of all large U.S. cities. We are also a beacon of diversity and inclusion, welcoming and embracing people of all backgrounds.
We must commit further to neighborhood safety and justice. Democratizing how we keep the peace will make our city even safer and fairer. This means tipping the balance from relying primarily on law enforcement to sharing this work with residents of all ages, community-based organizations, and city agencies. It also means acting on the decades of research and experience demonstrating that safety is the organic result of access to learning, work, and play, along with revitalized environments that bring people together and promote civic engagement.
The City, through the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice supports and promotes approaches rooted in the idea that safety should be a collaborative effort between residents and their government especially in neighborhoods with elevated levels of crime and a history of both discrimination and disinvestment. Through a set of signature initiatives, the City is engaging local leaders, community-based organizations, and residents in efforts to build durable and lasting peace and create more trust in government.
We must also commit to equal rights for all. Every year, thousands come to New York City because they believe that — on account of their gender identity, sexual orientation, race, or religion — they have a better chance of building a successful life here than where they came from. We must uphold that belief by creating a government that reflects and represents our diverse population, and lead the national conversation on identity and equal rights.
The Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety (MAP), launched in July 2014. This complex City initiative channels resources into 15 high-need public-housing developments and surrounding neighborhoods, and, more significantly, creates a larger role for residents in improving their own communities — because stronger neighborhoods are also safer ones. In 2016, MAP launched NeighborhoodStat (NSTAT), a problem identification and solving process that brings together residents, government, and nonprofits. MAP enhanced NSTAT in 2018 by expanding it to the local level in all 15 MAP communities. Facilitated by MAP engagement coordinators, local NSTAT meetings are led by stakeholder teams made up of residents and partners from over 10 City agencies who gather to discuss issues of concern, identify common goals, and begin the process of organizing people and resources to implement real change. As NSTAT ensures more residents have the opportunity to have their voices heard, the City will continue to support it.
The Mayor’s Office to Prevent Gun Violence (OPGV) serves as a coordinating agency, linking City initiatives, community-based nonprofit organizations, and everyday New Yorkers to partner in creating healthy, vibrant communities and addressing the causes and traumas of gun violence in New York City. The City, through OPGV, is built on the understanding that violence is a crisis with roots in structural racism, economic distress, trauma, and behavioral and public health. Community engagement, a true partnership with the people and organizations most affected by gun violence, is at the center of OPGV’s approach. City programs, such as the Peer Leadership Council and Safe in the City grants, enable the participation of youth in community responses to violence, and fund residents who are positioned to create the strongest impact within their own communities.
In 2018, the City announced an additional $34 million investment in evidence-based strategies to prevent gun violence throughout the city. The new funding will enable OPGV to launch five mobile trauma units, expand the Crisis Management System with four new locations in the Bronx and Brooklyn, hire six new domestic violence coordinators, and support the formation of a new public safety coalition in Bushwick, following the success of the first coalition in East Flatbush (see more in Thriving Neighborhoods).
Safely reduce the City’s jail population
The City’s goal is to operate the smallest jail system possible without compromising public safety. This is a matter of justice: no one should ever be incarcerated who does not pose a risk, either to public safety or of not returning to court. And those who are in jail should be matched with programs in jail in an effort to address their needs and form connections with community-based supports, thereby helping them reintegrate into their communities upon release — a model that can successfully reduce recidivism and encourage positive, productive outcomes.
To meet this goal, the City released “Smaller, Safer, Fairer: A Roadmap to Closing Rikers Island” in 2017, detailing 18 concrete strategies that will move the City toward a smaller jail population, safer facilities, and fairer culture inside jails. In 2014, there were more than 11,000 people in city jails. By the end of 2018, that number had dropped 30 percent to below 8,000 — the lowest since 1980. By continuing these strategies to reduce the number of people who enter jail, and the amount of time people spend in jail, the City will work toward the goal of safely reducing the size of the jail population to 7,000 by 2022. (Learn more about the City’s neighborhood justice strategies in Thriving Neighborhoods.)
New York City’s average daily jail population decreased by more than 60 percent between 1991 and 2018.
Source: New York City Department of Correction
A democratic government must be representative of its population. To that end, the City will create a Borough Civic Leadership Academy in partnership with borough presidents to increase the pool of candidates prepared for public leadership opportunities. The academy aims to create an equitable leadership pipeline by recruiting New Yorkers who are representative of diverse race, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other backgrounds to serve in civic leadership positions around the City.
Cultural institutions in New York City must also reflect the city’s diversity of age, race, gender, and disability. In 2016, the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) found that only 38 percent of employees at cultural organizations are people of color. To promote equity in the cultural workforce at City-supported institutions, DCLA will continue to support the CUNY Cultural Corps, a program that places undergraduate students in paid internships at the city’s cultural organizations. To help junior-level staff grow into the next generation of cultural leaders, DCLA will pilot a professional development program for cultural workers as an investment in the future of our students, our cultural organizations, and our City.
Through these efforts, the City will aim to build an inclusive leadership pipeline by recruiting, training, and preparing a diverse group of New Yorkers to meaningfully participate in public service in and out of City government.
Conversations to advance gender equity must include voices that are representative of the city’s diverse population, including the spectrum of gender identity, age, race, and immigration status. Among the strategies the City is exploring are hosting gender equity summits across the city to gather feedback on program offerings; building a network of cisgender and transgender males to help change culturally informed norms of masculinity, and foster the accountability of men for advancing gender equity for all New Yorkers; and engaging youth who represent diverse gender identities, sexual orientations, and backgrounds in conversations on gender equity to inform program offerings that increase youth voice in City agency work.
The NYC Unity Project — the City’s multi-agency strategy to deliver services to LGBTQ young people — will continue to engage its diverse stakeholders, including its Youth Council and Faith Network, to ensure programs and services support LGBTQ communities. Given high poverty, homelessness, and unemployment across LGBTQ communities, the Unity Project will build upon commitments aimed at ensuring greater LGBTQ equity in employment services and homelessness prevention programs.
New Yorkers must have greater knowledge of human rights and human rights law to understand global challenges and engage local government to ensure their rights are protected. To this end, the New York City Commission on Human Rights will continue to enforce and educate the public about the City Human Rights Law, the nation’s most progressive and expansive civil rights legislation. The commission will continue to conduct educational workshops, town halls, roundtables, and listening sessions in multiple languages to educate New Yorkers about discrimination based on race, religion, disability, gender identity, and/or sexual orientation.
The New York City Commission on Human Rights will also deepen after-school and community-based programs to empower youth with rights-based information and promote self-confidence, pride, and a sense of responsibility to one another. For example, a peer-mediation program de-escalates tension between students, as well as empowering them to create their own solutions to conflict. Other Commission programs for youth focus on empowerment of young women, dismantling white supremacy, and human rights education, such as equitable quality education and gender equality.