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Transcript: Mayor Adams Joins Governor Hochul for Public Safety- and State Budget-Related Announcement

May 3, 2023

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Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you so much, governor. And really just the partnership. We started out this session in Albany focused on communication, and I just cannot say enough about the governor and what she has done from day one. When we needed to regain control of our subway system, she found the resources and support with the Subway Safety Plan in February, then again in October. When we sat down and had to deal with the incoming migrant crisis, our conversation with Washington, D.C. and making sure we could get the support, and going to Albany during this budget season and talk about how we assist in alleviating the burden on our city.

But most importantly, something that's dear to my heart, I've talked about it over and over again, not only as a candidate, a state senator as the board president, but as a police officer. Public safety is a prerequisite to prosperity and we could have public safety and justice. Because, as being someone that started out standing on the steps of City Hall with Jackie Rowe-Adams, as she started her organization of Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. and spending countless number of days with parents who had to deal with the loss of their loved ones and seeing bullets carve highways of death through our communities, not only destroying the physical body that it hits, but the anatomies of the communities that people exist in. This budget is a budget that clearly will make our city and our communities safer. Thank you. Kudos to you, governor. Kudos to the leader of the Assembly, Assemblyman and Speaker Carl Heastie, and to our leader in the Senate, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, for coming to the table. All of my trips to Albany were worthwhile. We were able to really come together and engage in real conversation and we're seeing progress.

The key here… The governor pointed out that I hope many people did not miss, the criminal justice reforms were successful in those areas of nonviolent, non-repeated offenders. We wanted to sit down and address those who were dangerous and recidivists. And when my counsel, Brendan McGuire, and our team met with the governor's staff over and over again at the beginning of the budget process, we sat in the room and we talked about the recidivism. When we talked about that people wanted to bring every part of the criminal justice reform. And we said, no, there's a small number of people who are violent, who are dangerous, who are recidivists. And the governor heard us, she brought her team together, and we were able to zero in on those who are repeated offenders and that is important. Our goal was to make justice faster and fairer, that is what this budget is accomplishing.

I want to just highlight a few key areas. We have to start with the recidivism issue. That is a real issue. Small number of New Yorkers who are extremely violent, and there was a lack of clarity on how the judges can use their powers to ensure that they do not repeatedly harm innocent people in this city. In this budget, the 2024 budget, it addresses recidivism in five important ways that would, one, empower judges, reduce domestic violence. That's driving a lot of our felony assaults, domestic violence, and even some of the homicides, and hold repeated offenders accountable. But it also addresses the need for increased enforcement on the emerging cannabis market. This has become a problem throughout the entire state, if not the entire country, and it's more than just selling illegal cannabis. It is driving some of our robberies in our commercial establishments. It's driving some of the shootings. It's a cash only business, so it's creating its own industry of violence. And by cracking down on the illegal cannabis market, it is going to allow us to really prosper from the work we have done to make sure those who are doing it the legal way are able to grow the cannabis industry in this city.

This budget also provides additional funding for our district attorneys. Our district attorneys. The number of times we've met with our district attorneys and sat down in a room with them and communicated with them, they were very clear and focused on what they need. New Yorkers, let's be clear, the erosion of our criminal justice system is going to impact on those who are seeking justice and those who are caught up in the justice system. Our district attorneys are having a problem in staffing up, hiring; they were overwhelmed with paperwork. This infusion of money is going to allow them to start the process of hiring up their staff. And I just want to thank them for your conversations, your insight, and your understanding of how important this is, and to give them the funding they need to carry out the job that they must do.

But we did something else. When we went to Albany I was clear, we had to make sure our public defenders also received the money that they deserved. When you look at our public defenders, there were many people that wanted to dismiss the role that they did, and I said no to that because criminal justice reform must be on both parts of justice and public safety. People should not languish in jails for a long period of time, waiting to get the determination and the outcome of their cases just as victims should not have to put their lives on hold. So this governor put in place not only resources for our prosecutors, but resources for our defense attorneys. And it was a good advocacy that we put in place to make it happen. And I really want to commend the governor for finding that fine balance and not allowing the naysayers to get in the way of accomplishing this task.

This is a moment we can celebrate. We can celebrate together our city and state working together to deliver a safer New York for all and just who's here today is a reflection on the success of that. To have the Fortune Society here, to have Pastor Bernard here, our clergy, to have the advocates like Jackie Rowe-Adams here, to have our law enforcement here, our prosecutors, our defense attorneys here. We're saying that we are coming together because safety is something that this society, this city, this state deserves, and we are moving in the right direction to do that.

We're clear today. It's not right for dangerous people to stay on our streets longer, but it's also not right for others to languish behind bars as the criminal justice process drags on. I'm confident today, working together, we are going to move in the direction, as the governor stated. We're not spiking the ball but we know we are moving towards the goal line and we will be successful in making and continuing to have the city and state to be the safest state in America.

Governor, job well done. I cannot thank you enough from the beginning of this process. And you are right, it was not about a deadline, it was about making sure that we do it right and you did it right. Thank you, governor.

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