NY criminal justice reforms credited with safety gains

Eric Schneiderman
FILE - In this May 5, 2015, file photo, New York State Attorney Eric Schneiderman speaks during a Law Day event at the Court of Appeals in Albany, N.Y. Calling the activity illegal gambling, Schneiderman ordered fantasy sports industry giants DraftKings and FanDuel to stop accepting play from New Yorkers. They say he misinterpreted their business, and they’ve asked a court to block his order. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – The state attorney general says New York’s prisons hold one-third of the drug felons they did before lawmakers began rolling back the stiff penalties imposed under the Rockefeller-era drug laws, now sending more defendants to treatment programs.

In a Law Day address, Eric Schneiderman says that’s among the reforms that have made society safer, helping cut the crime rate despite initial opposition and criticism.

His office’s new role as investigator of police shootings of unarmed civilians is another reform Schneiderman says should be a national model. He says inmate re-entry to society needs aggressive attention, that their unemployment rate is a disgraceful 60 percent.

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, citing defendants’ Supreme Court guarantee of a lawyer, says it helps balance the enormous power of the state moving against an individual.

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