CDF-NY: Response to New York City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito’s 2015 State of the City Address

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, February 11, 2015

For More Information Contact:

Dacia Read
dread@childrensdefense.org
(212) 697-2323 x210

New York, N.Y.–Amongst other proposals, NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced today that the New York City Council will prioritize reforms to the criminal justice system and school discipline in the coming year.

The Children’s Defense Fund – New York applauds Speaker Mark-Viverito and the NY City Council for prioritizing these issues. Through the Children’s Defense Fund’s national Cradle to Prison Pipeline® campaign we work to reduce detention and incarceration by increasing preventative supports and services children need including quality early childhood development and comprehensive health coverage, replacing overly-punitive, exclusionary school discipline policies with guidance interventions and other restorative alternative approaches, and ensuring that NY’s justice system provides age-appropriate services and supports to court-involved youth.

In New York City, CDF-New York has long advocated for policies that “protect children, not guns” and keep adolescents off of Rikers Island. As a member of the Dignity in Schools Campaign – New York we firmly support increased use of guidance interventions in schools and reforming the Discipline Code by eliminating the B21 infraction for insubordination that is all too often issued disproportionately by students’ race and gender.

We are motivated by the commitments Speaker Mark-Viverito’s made today to 1) expand gun violence intervention programs; 2) address the fact that too many of our young people are locked up at Rikers by creating a $1.4M city-wide bail fund; 3) advocate for the use of guidance interventions rather than exclusionary discipline in school; 4) allocate funding to expand restorative justice programs in schools; 5) enhance training for School Safety Agents working with youth; 6) support reforming the B21 discipline code infraction; and 7) amend the Student Safety Act to get better data related to school discipline practices.

We look forward to working with the Speaker and Council to realize these commitments this year so that children and adolescents in New York are no longer propelled into a Cradle to Prison Pipeline that all too often leads to marginalized lives, incarceration and life-long collateral consequences.