CDANY Statement RE: FY 2023 Budget:
“Clients Used As Election Year Pawns”
The public defense organizations that make up the Chief Defenders Association of New York (CDANY) collectively defend 400,000 New Yorkers in the criminal, family, and appellate courts of New York State every year. We are disappointed that our clients were used as election year pawns in New York’s FY 2023 budget.
We are disappointed that fear won out over the truth, leading to rollbacks of the necessary and much needed criminal justice reforms of just three years ago. Every objective analysis of the bail reforms of 2019 shows that it has been an unqualified success. The Governor, as well as Senate and Assembly leaders, acknowledged that bail reform was not responsible for the increase in crime that is occurring across the country. Despite this, the discussion surrounding bail, and the equally important discovery reforms, hijacked the budget process and were used by some for political gain. Our clients, the poor and marginalized communities of New York State, particularly communities of color, will suffer the most from these rollbacks.
CDANY is equally disappointed that the increase in compensation paid to Assigned Counsel attorneys was not included in the budget. These fees were last raised 19 years ago. Paying attorneys 2004 rates in 2022 ensures that the most qualified and experienced attorneys will not represent indigent clients in New York’s court system. This most recent slap in the face to assigned counsel programs ensures that New York is not fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide meaningful, quality representation to indigent members of our community.
CDANY will continue to work with the Governor, the Legislature, and the public to ensure that future criminal justice policy is based upon facts, not fear. We will further fight to ensure that all New Yorkers, receive the best possible representation regardless of their socio-economic status.