NYC mayor Eric Adams, baptism

NYC Mayor Eric Adams Vetoes Bills Aimed At Police Accountability And Solitary Confinement Reform

Adams’ vetoes puts him at odds with the City Council, which has said that it has the votes to override his vetoes. 

New York Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, vetoed a bill that would have eliminated solitary confinement in the city’s jail system, as well as another requiring police officers to more thoroughly document stops. As the Associated Press reported, Adams defended his veto by saying that restrictions on solitary confinement would make jails more dangerous and the new requirements for officers would create more paperwork for law enforcement, possibly creating a danger to public safety. Adams’ veto puts him at odds with the City Council, which has said that it has the votes to override his veto. 

During a press conference announcing his veto, Adams stated that the mandates would restrict police, saying, “We don’t want to handcuff police. We want to handcuff bad people. That’s the goal,” Adams said. “It’s about making sure we’re not preventing them from doing their job.”

A few hours later, Adams’ office quietly announced that it would also be vetoing the solitary confinement bill, saying that it would have reversed the gains of New York City jails had made to ensure they were becoming safer. “Under our administration, the city’s jails are getting safer — but this bill would have taken us in the wrong direction.”

City council officials expressed disappointment in Adams’ choice to veto the solitary confinement bill and also expressed that they would seek to overturn the veto by Adams’ office. The Office of Council Member Carlina L. Rivera shared a statement with BLACK ENTERPRISE on Jan. 19, saying, “Due to decades of disinvestment and underinvestment, individuals in need of mental health or substance use services repeatedly end up in the jail system, and instead of receiving the treatment they need, they end up in solitary confinement. This bill provides the Department of Correction with procedures to responsibly remove someone from the general population and addresses incidents where a person has caused physical injury or poses a specific risk of imminent serious physical injury to themselves or others.”

Rivera continued, “Int. 549 passed the City Council with a veto-proof majority after a long battle against misinformation in collective efforts to strive for a criminal justice system that leads the nation in reforms rather than settling for the status quo. I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that we override this misguided veto.”

In addition to Rivera, City Council Speaker Ariadne Adams, of no relation to Mayor Adams, issued a statement to the Associated Press, saying, “Solitary confinement, by any name, has been proven to cause physical, psychological, and emotional harm, and its use has contributed to continued violence and deaths on Rikers Island.”

Adams continued, “We cannot allow the human rights and safety crisis on Rikers to continue by maintaining the status quo of failed policies and practices.”

The Speaker also spoke against Adams’ veto of the policing bill, insinuating that the lack of transparency from the police will deteriorate public trust. “The false narrative that we cannot have transparency is bad for our city, and belies the fact that accountability is vital to improving public safety by increasing trust.”

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who introduced both bills, said that Mayor Adams’ office’s prevention of the twin reforms would have the effect of decreasing the public safety of the City of New York. “A full understanding of the legislation makes it clear that enacting these reforms will be good for public safety, while preventing them will make our city less safe.”

RELATED CONTENT: Former New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer Mulling Mayoral Run Against Eric Adams