News 03.07.22

Christina Swarns’ Op-ed in New York Daily News: Why the Dangerousness Standard is Racist

Mayor Adams’ plan is a stepback for justice.

By Innocence Staff

Huwe Burton, wrongly convicted for over 30 years, was taken into custody as a teen in the Bronx in 1989. (Image: Clarence Davis/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

In a sharply focused opinion piece in today’s New York Daily News, Innocence Project Executive Director Christina Swarns expresses concern over New York Mayor Adams’ latest blueprint to end gun violence, including his calls for bail and discovery reform rollbacks.

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Instead of advancing criminal justice reform, Ms. Swarns writes that his plan will “reinvigorate a system of mass incarceration of Black and Brown New Yorkers by rolling back reforms that have helped to equalize the administration of justice in New York City.”

Specifically, Mayor Adams wants to introduce a “dangerousness” assessment to the bail law, which will ultimately punish Black defendants “disproportionality and expand the incarceration rate,” Ms. Swarns writes. 

“Even without explicit dangerousness assessments, New York City judges were 50% more likely to set higher bail for Black people accused of violent felony charges than for similarly-situated white people facing identical charges.”

Read Ms. Swarns’ op-ed in full

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