Archives of Rudolph W. Giuliani

Mayor's WINS Address
Sunday, April 19, 1998

To Honor the Memory of Crime Victims,
We Must Recommit Ourselves to Improving Public Safety

by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani

This year, after four years of historic reductions, crime in New York City continues its decline. Murders, which have now been reduced by over 70 percent over the last five years, dropped 29 percent in the first quarter of 1998 compared to the same period a year ago. And overall crime, which has been cut nearly in half over the last five years, has been reduced by more than seven percent so far this year alone.

This ongoing transformation has been the driving force behind the city's overall resurgence. For people across the city, it's a source of deep pride and optimism that our city, which as recently as the early 1990s was considered by some to be the crime capital of the nation, particularly with regard to homicide, and derided all over the world for being overrun by violence, is now globally recognized as the safest large city in the United States. As we recognize this transformation and work hard to make New York City a still safer place, we should stop and think about the thousands of lives that have been saved, not to mention the thousands and thousands of lives that have been liberated from fear and intimidation, especially in neighborhoods that used to be considered the most dangerous.

But at the same time, we must never forget that far too many people are still victimized by crime every day in New York City. Last Sunday, I attended the 13th annual Crime Victims Candlelight Vigil, which is part of the National Crime Victims' Week - a critical reminder of the work that remains.

All too frequently, the rights of victims are forgotten amidst the swirl of attention the media pays the perpetrators. Victims deserve our care, attention, and unceasing dedication. They deserve an administration that does everything in its power to reduce the number of people victimized by crime in the future. That's why we will continue to enhance accountability through the Police Department and develop new crime prevention and enforcement strategies - and to confront, with an unprecedented multi-agency effort, the scourge of drug abuse.

But more than anything, victims deserve a legal system built on real justice -- including justice for them.

We must once and for all correct the imbalance of our state's criminal justice system. I admire the great work of the NYPD because it succeeded despite this imbalance. Now it's time to make the law genuinely responsive to the rights of victims. We should start with a truth-in-sentencing policy - ending parole, as 27 states and the federal government have already done. We should also change the way we deal with violent juvenile offenders by unsealing the records of those with repeat convictions. Society as a whole needs to know what it is dealing with, victims need to know that justice has been served, and the young perpetrators themselves need to face what they have done - and understand the pain that they have caused - so that everyone can begin to heal.

When we begin by making these changes, we'll start to build an even safer, more confident, and more independent New York City.

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