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commission for criminal justice reform seeks input at public hearing

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STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.– Staten Islanders will have an opportunity to make sure their voices are heard about how to improve the New York City criminal justice system at a public hearing Wednesday.

The Staten Island Roundtable will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the College of Staten Island’s Recital Hall.

Chaired by former Chief Judge of the State of New York Jonathan Lippman, the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform is a fully independent body.

The commission was convened at the request of New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Lippmann has named more than two dozen commissioners to the panel ranging from a host of criminal justice reform organizations and community groups, to attorneys, academia and the corrections community.

According to the commission’s website,, its mission is to “create a blueprint for an improved criminal justice system reflecting our city’s values of decency, dignity, and equal treatment before the law.”

The commission is working with a wide range of stakeholders to get their perspective on how best to reform our current system. They are asking the public for input on how to create a “better and more just system for all.” So far, the commission has met in the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

Glenn E. Martin, founder and president of JustLeadershipUSA and a member of the commission, said the public forum is critical as it’s an opportunity to speak out.

The forum “is meant to decide the future of the criminal justice system in New York for the next decade or more…The Commissioners’ opinions will be shaped by the experiences of New Yorkers,” Martin said.

Members of the The #CLOSErikers campaign, led by JustLeadershipUSA, in partnership with the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice, will be in attendance at the meeting. The campaign was formed in 2016 “to break the political gridlock and achieve real solutions that are guided by directly impacted communities.

Through the campaign, over 120 diverse organizations across New York City have joined together to demand that Mayor Bill de Blasio close Rikers.

Martin, who founded the #CLOSErikers campaign, served time on Rikers years ago, and says his motivation comes from his personal experience.

“For us, it’s not just about shuttering the facility it’s about repairing the harm that’s been caused by Rikers over the last few decades,” said Martin.

Martin says that in addition to closing the the facility, the campaign is calling for speedy trial reform, bail reform, pre-trial supervision and additional community-based alternatives to incarceration programs.

Members of the commission will be attending Wednesday’s public hearing including Lippmann and Presiding Judge of the Brooklyn Mental Health Court Hon. Matthew J. D’Emic. Also participating in the forum will be moderator Amanda Farinacci, NY 1 Reporter and panelists Kathy Morse, assistant regional manager in New York for the Petey Greene Program; John McBeth; President of the Occupy the Block Staten Island; and Olivia Dana, project director for the Staten Island Youth Justice Center.

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