Gianaris weighs in on Hochul’s ‘kitchen sink’ approach to criminal justice reform

By Published On: March 22nd, 2022Categories: Capitol Notes

A list of potential changes to New York’s criminal justice laws that were recently floated by Gov. Kathy Hochul may have some traction with Senate Democrats, but they’re unlikely to embrace reforms that appear to rollback sweeping measures approved in 2019, according to Deputy Senate Majority Leader Mike Gianaris.

“We’re always open to having reasonable conversations,” the Queens Democrat told The Capitol Pressroom, pointing to the governor’s interest in increasing funding for pre-trial services and mental health services as areas his colleagues “could get behind.”

But he went on to say that most of the proposals that were leaked out to the media are “unrealistic.”

“The governor threw the kitchen sink into this thing. It’s more of a political document than anything else,” Gianaris said.

Hochul and her administration have been unwilling to make the case publicly for the changes her office has lobbied for privately. On Tuesday morning, Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin walked away from reporters without acknowledging repeated questions being peppered his way.

Gianaris stressed that any proposals that would return state laws to what they looked like before they were overhauled in 2019 were likely “off the table” in the Senate.  “We’re certainly not looking to take a circumstance that we had in 2019 that needed fixing and make it even worse, and that’s what some of these proposals do,” he said.

Gianaris indicated that tweaks to the state’s criminal justice statutes – such as improving the effectiveness of existing laws – will likely be subject of conversations between the legislature and the governor’s office in advance of the March 31 deadline for the state budget.