Councilman Rory Lancman chairs the Committee on the Justice System, overseeing the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, the district attorneys in all five boroughs, the City’s special narcotics prosecutor, the public defender organizations, the civil legal services providers funded by the City, and the courts.
As Chairman, and as a member of other Council committees that oversee the police department and Rikers Island, Councilman Lancman has been a leading advocate for ending overpolicing, mass incarceration and racial inequality in our criminal justice system, for focusing more criminal justice resources on protecting women, immigrants and wage earners, and for making legal services available to poor and working people in New York City.
Councilman Lancman’s hearings, budget actions, and legislation have been on the leading edge of criminal justice reform. His committee has conducted oversight hearings on “broken windows” policing, bail reform, speedy trial failures, wrongful convictions, ICE operations in courthouses, New York’s antiquated criminal discovery laws, discriminatory marijuana enforcement, and raising the age of criminal culpability.
Councilman Lancman has authored laws protecting women from internet harassment; reducing the City’s use of the criminal justice system for quality-of-life offenses; tracking City agencies’ issuances of criminal summonses; exposing unequal enforcement of fare evasion against black and Latino New Yorkers; making public the police department’s use of force data by precinct; and protecting the ability of those arrested to notify their family.
Councilman Lancman also proudly co-sponsored laws authored by his colleagues to require the police to obtain verifiable consent before conducting constitutionally consensual searches and to provide those stopped for noncustodial questioning with the reason for the stop and the identity of the officer making the stop; to publish the NYPD Patrol Guide online; to publish essential hate crime and domestic violence statistics; to report on clearance rates of major crimes; to disclose information on property seized from people in the course of an arrest; and to release information on school discipline and police activity in schools. Other laws Councilman Lancman co-sponsored include establishing an alternative civil offense for disorderly conduct that limits exposure to deportation; expanding the time for defendants to participate in the Bail Expeditor Program to avoid being sent to Rikers Island, and requiring the department of corrections to disclose critical data on the use of punitive segregation (solitary confinement) and the availability of alternatives.
Additionally, Councilman Lancman was instrumental in directing critical “alternative to incarceration” funding to women defendants in the City’s Human Trafficking Courts, to expanding supervised release programs, and to reducing the use of cash bail for poor defendants.
This work follows Councilman Lancman’s contributions to criminal justice reform during his three terms in the New York State Assembly, where he served on the prestigious Codes and Judiciary committees. Councilman Lancman was proud to author the law requiring the annual collection and public disclosure of data concerning the underrepresentation of people of color in jury pools, and to vote for laws repealing the state’s infamous Rockefeller drug laws, diverting children charged with prostitution from prosecution, and protecting children, domestic violence victims, and the elderly.
Councilman Lancman has also been a thought leader on criminal justice reform issues, authoring opinion articles in leading newspapers on wrongful convictions, broken windows policing, racial disparities in marijuana enforcement, bail reform, wage theft, prosecuting domestic violence, using minors in police lineups without parental consent, and raising the age of criminal culpability.
Councilman Lancman is a proud product of New York City public schools, Queens College of the City University of New York, and Columbia Law School. Prior to his election to public office, Councilman Lancman served as an infantry officer in New York’s own 42nd Infantry Division, and as an attorney in private practice representing clients facing harassment and discrimination in the workplace, and injuries due to corporate malfeasance and negligence. He lives with his wife and three children near St. John’s University in Queens, where he taught as an adjunct professor of law.