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The City of Buffalo’s Untapped Power to Discipline Police Officers

Miles Gresham — Oct 29, 2021

Drawing on decisions from the New York State Court of Appeals, this brief argues that the City of Buffalo has an untapped power to discipline police officers, outside of the provisions in its contract with the police union. Both court decisions and Buffalo’s legislative history grant it this authority. 

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The MRTA: What You Need to Know About Marijuana Legalization in New York

Miles Gresham — May 31, 2021

In March 2021, New York State adopted the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), a historic law that legalizes the use of recreational marijuana. In doing so, the MRTA centers racial and economic justice to repair the harms caused by decades of biased marijuana enforcement. It will bring revenue from marijuana legalization to communities most impacted by criminalization. It also removes or expunges past marijuana convictions.

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Building a Safer Buffalo: Invest in Communities, Divest from Police

Colleen Kristich — May 6, 2021

Across the country, advocates are calling to cut police budgets in response to widespread misconduct made visible by videos of police killing unarmed civilians, disproportionately Black Americans, Indigenous people and people of color. Many attempts at police reform have failed to meaningfully change the harmful culture and practices of policing, and even with outsized public investment in law enforcement, public safety problems persist. Concerned residents and advocates call for reallocating …

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The Cost of Incarceration in NYS: Erie County

Vera Institute of Justice — Apr 13, 2021

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Community Gardens as Urban Greening: Cutting Crime and Improving Wellbeing

Nicole Capozziello — Jan 7, 2021

This policy brief shares vacant land statistics in Buffalo, highlights Philadelphia as a vacant property transformation case study, and makes the case for community gardens as the ideal form of urban greening for Buffalo.

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Save Money, Save Lives: An Analysis of the Fiscal Impact of the HALT Solitary Confinement Act

Partnership for the Public Good — Nov 29, 2020

In New York State, a majority of state lawmakers support passage of the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act (S.1623/A.2500), to restrict the use of solitary confinement in prisons and jails in line with international human rights standards. Several local legislatures have endorsed the bill, including the Erie County Legislature.

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Shrinking Jails, Rising Costs: Erie County's Wasteful Jail Budget

Colleen Kristich — Nov 21, 2020

This policy brief presents data on the makeup of the Erie County jail population, which has reduced by 48% since 2017. It examines the capacity of both jails and determines that one jail could be closed, with savings redirected to other community-based harm reduction services. The brief compares Erie County spending on jails with spending on mental and public health, and makes recommendations for County leaders to further reduce the jail population, capture the savings of decarceration, and …

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Footage Release Policies for the Buffalo Police Department

Sarah Wooton — Nov 16, 2020

To be effective accountability tools, police body cameras must be accompanied by good policies governing their usage and giving the public access to footage. Otherwise, exemptions in state freedom of information laws can be used to limit the disclosure of critical evidence of misconduct.

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Why Buffalo Needs Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD): Reducing Arrests and Providing Alternatives to Incarceration

Andrea Ó Súilleabháin, Tanvier Peart — Jun 25, 2020

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) is a pre-arrest diversion program that improves public safety and public health through partnership between police and community service providers.

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Cruelty and Cost: Money Bail in Buffalo

Andrea Ó Súilleabháin, Colleen Kristich — Apr 26, 2018

This policy report was drafted by Andrea Ó Súilleabháin, Deputy Director at PPG, and Colleen Kristich, Master of Social Work Candidate at the University at Buffalo.It presents new data on bail in Buffalo, including frequency of money bail, average amounts by level and type of offense, and racial disparities. This dataset is based on PPG's observation of 240 arraignment hearings from November 2017 to February 2018.The report includes several stories from Buffalo City Court, …

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Restorative Practices in Buffalo: Building and Rebuilding Community

Kathryn Franco — Apr 21, 2018

Restorative practices/restorative justice (RP or RJ)  is an alternative approach to our current punitive system of addressing conflict and crime. It is an age-old practice with origins in many indigenous cultures and has become increasingly popular in schools, communities and court systems in recent years. Here in Buffalo, individuals began advocating for restorative justice nearly two decades ago. Since then, many organizations, community groups, and schools have been using the practice …

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Better Policing for the City of Buffalo: Toward Community, Transparency, and Justice

Andrea Ó Súilleabháin — Sep 26, 2017

This policy brief recommends that the Buffalo Police Department expand its community policing efforts through culture change and incentives, a diversified police force, increased training, improved transparency and oversight, more restorative justice and diversion programs, and the use of crime prevention through environmental design.  The brief is based on “Collaboration, Communication, and Community-Building: A New Model of Policing for 21st Century Buffalo,” a 2016 PPG …

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Access to Justice in Buffalo and Beyond: Making the Justice System More Welcoming for Refugees

Fidèle Menavanza — Jun 23, 2016

As an essential human right, much has been written about access to justice. Still, too many poor people lack this essential access all over the world when they face major life challenges. The issue confronts people experiencing poverty around the globe, as well as close to home. Access to justice for the most vulnerable is as encompassing as our country is diverse, affecting all races, ethnic groups, and ages. Victims of domestic violence, people with disabilities, homeowners facing …

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The Potential Impact of Legalizing, Regulating, and Taxing Marijuana on Erie County and New York State

Sam Magavern — Oct 28, 2015

The costs of continuing the prohibition of marijuana far outweigh the benefits.  Prohibition costs the public a large amount of money in law enforcement expenses and lost tax revenue; it imposes great harms on individuals, families and neighborhoods by criminalizing relatively harmless behavior and spawning a large, violent, underground economy; and it contributes heavily to the large racial disparities in our criminal justice system.

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Initiatives for a Stronger Community

Mark Poloncarz — Mar 31, 2015

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