The Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue subway station in Jackson Heights, a neighborhood with one of the city’s highest rates of turnstile arrests per MetroCard swipe. Photo by Harrison Leong.

Marshall Project Report Reveals Racial Disparities in Subway Arrests

Predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Queens are still a target for fare-beating arrests, despite a push for decriminalization from local leaders, according to a report published by a criminal justice watchdog published on Wednesday.

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Council Member Rory Lancman debated Assistant District Attorney James Quinn on the future of Rikers Island Wednesday. // Eagle photo by David Brand 

Lancman, Legal Aid Condemn ADA’s Browder Comments

In the days since Council Member Rory Lancman and Queens Senior Executive Assistant District Attorney James Quinn debated about the future of Rikers Island, one specific exchange about Kalief Browder has garnered national attention.

While defending the proposal to close jails on Rikers Island and open four “borough-based” jails, Lancman — a potential candidate in the 2019 Queens DA race — frequently described how the bail system keeps low-income defendants in detention simply because they cannot afford to the pay bail.

He cited the experience of Browder, a 16-year-old from the Bronx who was arrested for stealing a backpack and held on Rikers for three years — including two in solitary confinement — because he could not afford to pay bail. Ultimately, Browder’s C Felony charges were dismissed.

Two years after his release, Browder committed suicide.

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It’s Lancman vs. Quinn at Civic Association’s Rikers Debate

The debate over what to do with Rikers Island has roiled Queens and one community in particular stands to experience the biggest impact from the city’s plan to close the massive jail complex.

Kew Gardens, home to the now-vacant Queens House of Detention, would absorb more than 1,500 Rikers inmates, according to the city’s proposal — a notion that has encountered split reactions from residents.

Thus, with community members divided and uncertain about the plan, the Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association will host a debate featuring two prominent voices on either side of the issue at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills on Sept. 5.

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Queens County Criminal Court // Eagle photo by David Brand

Queens DA Race Heats Up With Lasak Resignation

In the days since Queens Criminal Court Justice Gregory Lasak decided to step down from his position effective Sept. 14, the race for district attorney has begun to heat up.

The decision to leave the Supreme Court bench enables Lasak to begin fundraising ahead of a potential candidacy for Queens County District Attorney in 2019. As of press time, Lasak did not respond to requests for comment.

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Queens County Criminal Court. Eagle photo by Andy Katz.

Criminal Justice Reform Advocates Hail New DA Watchdog Law

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s eleventh hour decision to sign a law creating the nation’s first prosecutorial misconduct commission has received mixed responses from the Queens legal community and borough lawmakers. The law, which passed both chambers of the state legislature earlier this year, will create an 11-person panel to oversee misconduct committed by prosecutors. That panel would consist of appointees made by the governor, legislature and the Chief Judge of the State Court of Appeals, a seat currently held by Hon. Janet DiFiore.

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The Queens House of Detention sits vacant but will factor into the city's plan to close Rikers // nyc.gov

Queens House of Detention Set to Re-Open As Rikers Closes

The vacant Queens House of Detention is one step closer to re-opening as a key component of the city’s plan to shutter Rikers Island.

On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the four proposed borough-based sites to replace Rikers. The Queens jail will be located at 126-02 82nd Avenue, the site of the vacant House of Detention, which closed as a cost-cutting measure in 2002.
On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the four proposed borough-based sites to replace Rikers.

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A bail bonds Office in NYC. AP Photo by Kathy Willens

$1 Bail Fail Initiated Latest Reforms

A stunning bail system failure helped initiate a slate of jail reform bills signed into law Tuesday — though they came a few years too late for one Rikers detainee.

The new laws, introduced by District 24 Council Member Rory Lancman, will require bail bond agents to be more transparent when it comes to seeking compensation and filing complaints and will force each bail bondsman to display a consumer bill of rights inside their shops.

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District 24 Council Member Rory Lancman // Photo Courtesy of Rory Lancman

LANCMAN: Supervised Release Is Answer For ‘Fairer and Sensible’ Justice System

New York City’s bail system is costly, inefficient and unjust. Everyday, thousands of people languish on Rikers Island, who have not been found guilty of any crime, solely because they cannot afford to pay bail. In essence, these individuals are stuck in jail, not because they are too dangerous to release, but because they cannot afford to buy their freedom.

Until a few years ago, there was no solution to combat this crisis. Today, however, the answer is supervised release.

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Queens County Criminal Courthouse // Eagle Photo by Andy Katz

Police Reform Group Charges That Queens Weed Busts Discriminate

There’s a new marijuana policy coming to town and the latest arrest data from the New York Police Department reveal the vast racial disparities that prompted the change.

In the first six months of 2018, 93 percent of people arrested for marijuana possession in New York City were black or Hispanic. The data was compiled from NYPD arrest records and distributed by in a new report released by the Police Reform Organizing Project.

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The Queens House of Detention sits vacant but will factor into the city's plan to close Rikers // nyc.gov

Queens Jail Turned TV Set Has Role in Rikers Closure

Over the past 16 years, it seems that everyone in Queens has proposed a new use for the vacant Queens House of Detention near the Criminal Courthouse in Kew Gardens.

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