New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Shares 2023 HighlightsDecember 21, 2023
NEW YORK— Over the past year, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ) achieved significant milestones in justice reform and legal regulations, thanks to collaborative efforts with key partners within the justice system. MOCJ centered its efforts around several key areas, including identifying key public safety trends in recidivism and jail population, increasing reliance and effectiveness of comprehensive and targeted pre-trial diversion and reentry services, hate violence and awareness initiatives, combating retail theft, addressing the rise in fentanyl overdoses, and regulating the short-term rental market.
“Building an equitable, holistic, and people-centered justice system is key to cultivating safety and reducing crime. This is a core tenet of MOCJ, where we regularly collaborate with partners across the public safety continuum to implement innovative solutions to the city’s public safety challenges,” said Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Director Deanna Logan. “The immense talent and unwavering dedication of our staff contributed to improved opportunities for individuals navigating the court system, streamlined processes for finding stable housing for people transitioning from incarceration, increased civic engagement among communities as they stand against hate violence, and much more. We are grateful to Mayor Eric L. Adams and Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Philip Banks III for their leadership as we work to protect New Yorkers and prioritize safety for all.”
In 2023, MOCJ’s noteworthy achievements included:
Identifying Public Safety Trends
Recidivism: MOCJ’s Research Innovation and Policy teams identify concerns that present challenges to public safety. Under Mayor Adams’s leadership, the city’s public safety agencies began an unprecedented collaboration to align crime data across city systems. MOCJ, the NYC Police Department (NYPD), the NYC Department of Correction (DOC), the Office of Court Administration (OCA), and many providers of city services work together to coordinate data systems to produce a more accurate picture of public safety and public health within the criminal justice framework of the city. MOCJ’s unprecedented collaboration across multiple data stream revealed that there are approximately 9,000 people who have a recent persistent pattern of recurring criminal charges and missing court. This is what most people refer to as New York City’s “recidivist problem.”
Safely Reducing Unnecessary Incarceration
Diversion and Reentry: Through pre-trial diversion and reentry programs, MOCJ helped tens of thousands of individuals safely navigate the justice system and reduce incarceration:
Pre-Trial Diversion: In FY23, over 22,000 cases were ordered to a Supervised Release (SR) program by a judge in the same fiscal year. The administration increased SR funding to $104.3 million in FY24 and partnered with providers to plan for implementation of the Intensive Case Management (ICM) pilot program in FY24. ICM offers comprehensive support to justice-involved individuals identified as having a “recent persistent pattern” or high risk of rearrests and recidivism. Judges and court actors rely on SR programs to allow individuals to safely access supportive services and await trial in their communities.
Reentry Services: MOCJ’s reentry team partners with a citywide network of nonprofit providers, all committed to assisting individuals who have been discharged from custody as they navigate their transitions back into their respective communities. This comprehensive portfolio of supportive services includes pre-release reentry counseling, housing assistance, and job training. Between January and November of this year, 10 of MOCJ’s reentry service providers conducted nearly 4,000 client intakes and successfully facilitated over 1,000 job placements, achieving remarkable outcomes in delivering wrap-around services and creating opportunities for gainful employment within a historically underserved population.
Transitional Housing: Housing is a fundamental pillar of public safety and plays a pivotal role in reducing recidivism. In March 2023, MOCJ’s Transitional Housing unit launched the ‘Open Minds Open Doors‘ campaign. The campaign addressed the stigmas associated with justice involvement that hinder access to housing. Concurrently, the team led the rollout of the city’s Transitional Housing sites, shifting from the former emergency housing model initially implemented in response to the heightened disease transmission rates in city jails and state prisons during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Transitional Housing now provides a lasting solution, offering nearly 1,000 recently released individuals the opportunity to secure long-term housing as they transition from incarceration into the broader NYC community.
Moreover, MOCJ achieved the successful placement of over 100 formerly incarcerated individuals into safe and permanent housing across the five boroughs within a span of seven months, utilizing federal housing vouchers. These placements grant individuals a second chance to embark on a path towards independent living and full community integration.
Looking ahead, we are eager to continue our collaboration with elected leaders and local organizations, working collectively to provide comprehensive resources and housing opportunities for challenged and underserved populations across the city.
NYC Jail Population Review Program: MOCJ partnered with the Center for Justice Innovation to launch the NYC Jail Population Review Program to safely reduce the number of individuals awaiting trial on Rikers Island by identifying and reducing systemic inefficiency that contribute to case delays. The program began on October 1, 2023, in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Individuals are connected to community supports and pre-trial supervision. The review program will expand citywide in July 2024.
Diversion & Reentry Summit: MOCJ convened program providers, city officials, and law enforcement representatives to discuss the effectiveness of current criminal justice reforms and interventions. The summit included opportunities to brainstorm innovative interventions for crime prevention and comprehensive reentry programs and resources.
Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes: Situated within MOCJ, the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes (OPHC) is committed to both reducing hate crimes and fostering community empowerment, especially among populations most vulnerable to hate violence. OPHC actively collaborates with various city agencies and local organizations to execute initiatives designed to systematically deter hate crimes and bias-motivated incidents, thereby enhancing neighborhood safety.
In February, OPHC introduced Breaking Bread, Building Bonds, a mayoral initiative designed to foster solidarity among the city’s diverse communities, while promoting empathy and combating hate and bias. The initiative convened more than 10,000 New Yorkers by hosting over 1,000 meals and leading meaningful conversations every day. OPHC also launched Community Project Grants with the NYC Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) to increase community-led responses to hate crimes and address the underreporting of bias-motivated incidents through creative and innovative projects. Finally, in the 2023 iteration of the Partners Against the Hate (PATH) FORWARD initiative, OPHC funded six local organizations representing various ethnic and gender groups with a combined $2,550,000 to address hate violence and help build capacity for additional organizations that serve vulnerable populations.
Improving Public Safety
Retail Theft: To combat the rise in retail theft, MOCJ joined Mayor Adams and Deputy Mayor Banks to announce a comprehensive plan addressing increased incidents of shoplifting and larceny while fostering economic prosperity for all New Yorkers. MOCJ joined Mayor Adams’s Retail Theft Task Force to implement innovative solutions from the ‘Retail Theft Report,’ including interventions to deter theft, protect retail staff, and allocate resources for consumers more effectively.
Fentanyl Summit: Mayor Adams and MOCJ hosted a two-day summit on the national fentanyl crisis, drawing elected officials, public health experts, and law enforcement leaders from major cities nationwide. Summit attendees worked together to identify common challenges and brainstormed long-term strategies rooted in best practices from public health and law enforcement, aiming to reduce overdoses and save lives.
Office of Special Enforcement: Housed within MOCJ, the Office of Special Enforcement (OSE) is charged with addressing illegal short-term rentals. OSE and Mayor Adams announced the city’s $4.2 million victory in three lawsuits against predatory landlords accused of tenant harassment and illegal short-term rentals. Notably, in March 2023, OSE launched a regulatory apparatus designed to monitor the local short-term rental market in accordance with Local Law 18. The office continues to apply its enforcement expertise to protect the city’s housing stock from individuals and companies that violate the law and prey on New Yorkers.
OSE continued its nuisance abatement to support healthy communities across our city. Notably in 2023, OSE received 67 Massage Parlor complaints for approximately 60 locations in Queens. Of these OSE closed 54%. Additionally, OSE issued 215 violations for illegal Massage Parlors for approximately 70 locations in Queens.