John Jay has long been committed to public safety, demonstrated through its education of fierce advocates for justice in law enforcement, the criminal legal system, political office, and social activism, as well as its support of leading-edge research that illuminates challenges and solutions. Here, we focus on some of our most recent public safety initiatives, which build on our legacy, reflect today’s demands, and propel us forward.
2020: The Future of Public Safety Initiative
In 2020, following the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matters protests, John Jay collaborated with the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives to gather diverse speakers for a series of public conversations that identified points of consensus and resulted in recommendations on supporting safe communities and ensuring that communities of color are equally protected and respected. (Read the report.)
“I watched as thousands of Americans took to the streets to protest the long history of racial injustice in the United States. The pain and frustration was palpable and it was clear that something had to change,” said Karol V. Mason, President of John Jay. “Our report responded with recommendations that will help rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”
In addition to President Mason, participants included:
Medaria Arradondo, Minneapolis Police Chief
Michael Blake, New York State Assembly Member
Tanya Coke, Director of Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Justice, The Ford Foundation
Eric Gonzalez, Brooklyn District Attorney
Keisha Lance Bottoms, Former Mayor of Atlanta
Brittany Packnett Cunningham, Activist and Organizer
Dr. Leana Wen, Former Baltimore Health Commissioner
The conversations and report generated new and ongoing partnerships with My Brother’s Keeper, the National League of Cities, and the Aspen Institute, among others.
2021: Leading NYC’s Public Safety Transition Committee
In 2021, Mayor Eric Adams ’98 tapped both Karol V. Mason, John Jay’s President, and Erica Bond, John Jay’s new Vice President for Justice Initiatives, to lead his Public Safety Transition Committee, along with Candis Tolliver, Vice President of Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
“It was an honor to gather leaders from across the City, including from philanthropy, community organizations, business, non-profits, and the criminal legal system, to share our best ideas for keeping New Yorkers safe with the Adams Administration.”
One of the most significant concerns the Committee faced was the rise in gun violence. “We identified a number of strategies, including further investments in youth employment and community-based violence-intervention programs that we know drive down violence,” says Bond. “There was consensus around the need to proactively invest in community health and well-being, particularly in the communities of color most impacted by violence and crime.”
2022: Bail Reform in New York State
This year, John Jay’s public safety initiatives expanded to include a public forum on New York State’s bail and pretrial laws, policies, and practices. Public officials, members of the media, and representatives from the criminal legal system and impacted communities gathered for interactive presentations, panels, and roundtable discussions. (Watch forum sessions here.)
“There is a lot of concern about the relationship between bail reform, public safety, and the rising rate of violent crime,” says Bond. “This conference was an opportunity for stakeholders with diverse perspectives to have an informed, in-depth dialogue infused by leading-edge research and facts.”
Forum participants included:
The Honorable Russ Immarigeon, Hillsdale Town Court
Insha Rahman, Vice President, Vera Institute of Justice
Sandra Smith, Ph.D., Professor, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
The Honorable David Soares, Albany County District Attorney
The Honorable Latrice Walker, New York State Assembly
Andre Ward, Associate Vice President of the David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy, The Fortune Society
The convening was a collaboration between Arnold Ventures and John Jay’s Data Collaborative for Justice and Institute for Innovation in Prosecution.
Our Comprehensive Commitment
John Jay’s College-wide dedication to public safety extends beyond the initiatives featured above.
The Center on Media, Crime, and Justice encourages and develops high-quality reporting on criminal justice and promotes better-informed public debate on law enforcement.
The Christian Regenhard Center for Emergency Response Studies studies large-scale events from a perspective of first-responder coordination and protection of life, property, and critical systems.
The Data Collaborative for Justice shares critical research about interactions between community members and the criminal justice system.
From Punishment to Public Health works to reduce the harms of the criminal justice system through public health solutions that improve public safety outcomes.
The Institute for Innovation in Prosecution promotes data-driven strategies, cutting-edge scholarship, and innovative thinking with prosecutors, policy experts, and communities.
The Institute for Justice and Opportunity opens doors and eliminates barriers to success for people who have been involved in the criminal legal system.
The National Network for Safe Communities fosters innovative crime reduction strategies through hands-on fieldwork, action research, and partnerships.
The Research and Evaluation Center responds to the research needs of justice practitioners in New York City and beyond.
The Social Change and Transgressive Studies Project develops and supports research on the growth of global inequalities and reactions that seek to resolve these inequalities.