Assemblyman Ramos: We Must Act to Improve New York’s Criminal Justice System

Assembly passes comprehensive measures, now Senate must act

With recent high-profile cases in the public eye raising grave concerns about our criminal justice system, Assemblyman Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood) announced that he helped craft and passed several measures that aim to restore faith in our state’s criminal justice system.

“The safety and well-being of our communities depends on the level of trust the public places in our criminal justice system and the men and women who enforce our laws,” said Assemblyman Ramos. “We must continue working together to restore mutual trust between the public and our law enforcement officers. As a former police officer, I’m committed to standing up for our families and I’m confident that these measures would bring much-needed transparency and accountability to our justice system.”

Transparency in grand jury proceedings

In response to recent controversies involving police actions, Assemblyman Ramos helped pass a measure that would allow for the public release of the legal instructions and charges considered by a grand jury (A.8084). In addition, he also supported a bill that would create an Office of Special Investigation within the Attorney General’s Office to ensure victims get the justice they deserve (A.6509-A).

"Under this system, somebody would be overseeing the investigation right from the beginning so that an injustice doesn't happen, so that innocent police officers get their just do and that injustices are identified," said Assemblyman Ramos during a recent debate on the floor of the state Assembly.

Fair treatment of youth offenders

Our youth must be treated fairly and appropriately, and at risk youth should be encouraged to make better life decisions, noted Assemblyman Ramos. To ensure criminal records are sealed when appropriate and make the law consistent for youths in local courts, he supported legislation that would require defendants 16 to 18 years of age convicted of a misdemeanor in a county or Supreme Court to be tried as youthful offenders (A.7212).

Ending employment discrimination

Helping reduce recidivism means allowing those who’ve paid their dues to seek and acquire employment in order to become productive members of our society, noted Assemblyman Ramos. A new measure would prohibit employers from denying employment to an individual based on their criminal record – unless there’s a substantial connection between the job and the conviction that would pose a risk to safety. Additionally, employers would be prohibited from questioning about criminal history on applications, and will only be allowed to inquire such history if a conditional job offer is made (A.2734 and A.2990).

Limiting the use of solitary confinement

Assemblyman Ramos also voted for a measure that would ensure solitary confinement is used as a last resort and limit the time inmates are subject to confinement (A.1346). To further protect youth and those with developmental disabilities, this bill prohibits the use of confinement, as extreme isolation could do more harm than good.

“Equal treatment under the law is a must – not just a requirement. It’s our obligation as elected officials to help restore faith in the justice system and help victims get the justice they deserve,” concluded Assemblyman Ramos.

As recently elected 1st Vice Chair of the of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian (BPHA) Legislative Caucus, Assemblyman Ramos has stood up for our communities and the diverse voices of our New York state residents. A video of Assemblyman Ramos speaking in support of a special prosecutor can be viewed here.