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ALBANY’S RESOLUTION SUPPORTING THE TRUTH, JUSTICE AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION”

RESOLUTION OF THE COMMON COUNCIL SUPPORTING THE CREATION OF A STATEWIDE “TRUTH, JUSTICE AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION”

Council Member Kimbrough moved to amend RESOLUTION NUMBER 42.71.15R, which was approved by unanimous voice vote:  

WHEREAS, according to a 2012 report by the Center for Law and Justice, there is, and has been for decades, an alarming overrepresentation of people of color in the Capital Region’s criminal and juvenile justice systems at every stage of the process from arrest to imprisonment; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to the “War on Drugs” and the Rockefeller drug laws, African-American and Hispanic men and women have been incarcerated, and removed from their families and communities, for non-violent offenses in disproportionate numbers; and

WHEREAS, the State of New York has relied upon a policy of mass incarceration that has incarcerated hundreds of thousands of people for drug offenses over the past 41 years with the majority of them coming from African American and Hispanic communities; and

WHEREAS, even after serving their sentences, individuals who have been convicted of felonies continue to suffer from discrimination, facing significant barriers in education, housing, employment and voting, which further harms them and their communities; and

WHEREAS, the City wishes to repair the harm caused to individuals of color, their families and neighborhoods, as the result of mass incarceration, and to work toward redesigning the law enforcement and criminal justice systems to prevent such disparate impact in the future.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the City of Albany Common Council hereby supports the creation of a statewide Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (“Justice Commission”), for the purpose of righting injustices and inequities resulting from local and state law enforcement and criminal justice policies as applied to its minority communities and to work toward a more just society.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the City of Albany Common Council supports a Justice Commission that will be “fashioned after a Commission created in South Africa” at the end of government-sanctioned apartheid in order to fairly address the injustices that occurred under that system.

RESOLVED, that the Justice Commission shall be racially, ethnically diverse and as inclusive as possible of all stakeholders.

RESOLVED, that the Justice Commission should be entrusted with and authorized to engage in the following endeavors: a) Examining the impact of the aforementioned drug laws and other law enforcement policies that have resulted in mass incarceration and the inequitable treatment of minorities and other disadvantaged persons; b) Hearing testimony of those adversely affected, particularly those who were incarcerated for nonviolent low-level crimes; c) Considering some type of restitution to overcome the significant barriers in education, housing and employment monetary or otherwise, for individuals who  received unduly harsh treatment or served long sentences; d) Reviewing the cases of individuals who are still in prison for non-violent offenses, with a view toward release;  e) Brainstorming ideas for significantly decreasing the current jail and prison populations; f) Reviewing laws that unfairly discriminate against those convicted of felonies after their release, in housing, employment, education or voting; g) Establishing a process whereby future laws will be reviewed with an assessment of their racial impact;   h) Establishing an office for affirmative action, in employment, housing and education to provide opportunities in communities with high incarceration rates or to those who were adversely affected by the incarceration of family members;

  1. i) Establishing a liaison agency between urban areas and communities of color in order to heal racial divisiveness and establish trust and respect; and j) Seeking other additional effective solutions to the mistrust engendered by past practices.

RESOLVED, that copies of this resolution be forwarded to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, State Senator Neil Breslin and Assemblymembers Patricia Fahy and John McDonald III.

The resolution passed by the following voice vote of all Council Members elected voting in favor thereof: Affirmative – Applyrs, Bailey, Commisso, Conti, Doesschate, Fahey, Flynn, Golby, Herring, Igoe, Kimbrough, Kornegay, Krasher, O’Brien and Robinson  Affirmative   15     Negative      0       Abstain    0

Resolution Number 42.71.15R 9As Amended) was co-sponsored by Council Members Applyrs, Bailey, Conti, Doesschate, Golby, Kornegay, Krasher and Robinson.

View the resolution here.