Statement from Vera Action on the New York City Primary Elections

This month, New Yorkers elected public officials in practically every major elected office in the city.

Some may interpret an Eric Adams Democratic mayoral victory as a referendum against New York City’s increasingly progressive turn toward a community-based public safety model that includes mental health services, treatment, housing, and violence prevention and interruption programs.

Yet the truth is that New Yorkers across many communities—especially Black, brown, and immigrant neighborhoods—voted for a new vision of justice and public safety and against the status quo of more policing, prosecution, and incarceration. The results we saw in the New York City primary mirror the national movement for reform-minded prosecutors and a new model for public safety. After all, the following candidates won:

  • A Manhattan DA, Alvin Bragg, who has pledged not to prosecute low-level crimes for which there is little or no public safety benefit, to expand restorative justice options, and to improve reentry outcomes.

  • A Comptroller, Brad Lander, who has committed to demanding budget justice, holding the NYPD accountable for violence and misconduct, and advancing an approach to public safety that centers community support rather than policing and incarceration.

  • A Public Advocate, Jumaane Williams, who is a fearless advocate for people of color in New York’s criminal legal system, including those facing deportation, and a strong voice in the fight to end NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy.

  • And joining them are several progressive City Council candidates, all of whom ran campaigns centered on justice and equity and highlighted the effectiveness of well-funded social services to address the root causes of crime.

Even with Eric Adams as mayor, the work for justice in New York City is still underway. The future Adams administration must commit to:

  • Fulfilling the city’s pledge to close Rikers Island by no later than 2027.

  • Right-sizing the NYPD and DOC budgets by $1.26 billion. New York City spends more than any other big city in the country on police and jails. The city’s enormous policing and corrections budgets are not driven by services and programming, but by personnel costs that make New York City’s ratio of police and corrections officers to people outsized compared to other jurisdictions, with one police officer for every 162 residents and almost two corrections officers for every one person incarcerated at Rikers Island.

  • Investing at least $500 million in community-driven public safety. One central piece of the response to the recent increases in gun violence is seriously investing in community-driven public safety solutions like violence prevention and interruption programs that have been proven to work. New York City’s current investment of roughly $30 million in these programs needs to be multiplied to match the scale of and demand for these programs in communities across the city.

Vera Action was launched in early 2021 as an independent but closely aligned 501(c)(4) affiliate of the Vera Institute of Justice (, a national organization that partners with impacted communities and government leaders for change. Vera Action works to shape and pass legislation and policy that prioritizes racial justice, transforms the criminal legal system, and delivers on a vision of a safer and more equitable country for everyone.

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