Roughly 1,500 of the 10,000 inmates on Rikers have been there for longer than a year, because of backlogged courts, poor legal representation, or deliberate defense tactics. The mayor aims to put those inmates in court within 45 days. The hope is that in six months, half of those cases will be resolved.
The Times calls de Blasio's figures "a modest reduction," given that the the daily population of Rikers has already declined by half over the past 20 years.
Perhaps more significantly, in addition to speeding up court appearances for current inmates, the administration plans to "overhaul" the process by which New Yorkers address summonses, which represent more than 50% of all criminal court cases.
According to a release, by the beginning of the summer, New Yorkers who receive a summons for having an open container of alcohol (by far the most common summons issued, followed by disorderly conduct, littering, and bicycling on the sidewalk) will be able to pay the fine online. Currently, 38% of all summonses issued go unaddressed, and result in a warrant for the offender's arrest.
New Yorkers issued a summons will also have "a wider window within which to satisfy the summons," and a "reminder system" to let them know when they should appear in court if they want to contest the summons.
Badly needed data regarding summons enforcement will be provided quarterly, and will show the offense, the precinct in which it was issued, and the race of the recipient.
The mayor is calling his plan "Justice Reboot."
“Justice Reboot is about rethinking the way we approach criminal justice in NYC,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Today’s changes are part of my long-term commitment to bring the criminal justice system into the 21st century, safely drive down the number of people behind bars, and make the system fairer."
"To the Mayor's credit, he's the first one in the last 20 years that has actually spent some type of time or money in trying to reform Rikers Island," Seabrook said. "I have been an advocate for a lot of the things that they're talking about, but it has always fallen on deaf ears."
Seabrook added, "I'm not going to criticize the program of him trying to get the judges, the DAs, the probation department all on the same page, I welcome it. I just think that we have a long way to go and this is a good start."