COBA's Position on Reform & the Jails

Critics have continually claimed that COBA blocks reform in the New York City criminal justice system[1]. However for over a decade - since the Giuliani administration - COBA has been sounding the alarm about mismanagement and poor policies in place in the City’s jails. COBA has gone on record time and again to say that the men and women patrolling the toughest precincts in New York City are not opposed to progressive change. At the end of the day scrutinizing the jails makes everyone more accountable – the City Council, inmates, so – called “reformers,” Board of Corrections, Correction Officers, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and especially uniformed and civilian Managers – and COBA says “welcome, lets go![2] ” No other law enforcement force in the City has to deal 24/7 with the challenging populations who are the very subject of discussions about reform – adolescents, young adults, those with adjustment disorders, gang members, recidivist offenders, substance abusers and the seriously mentally ill. And, it must be noted that most inmates are a mix or combination of the above. So – to be clear – COBA welcomes reform in this broken system, and has for years.

As stated by Norman Seabrook in testimony to the New York City Board of Corrections and City Council, give us the tools to do the job[3]. The job -- as it has been for over a century and will always be – is of taking care, having custody and keeping control over the 12,000 detainees and sentenced offenders in the system with or without the resources they require. It falls to maligned professionals who are willing to do what needs to be done who only ask that their safety be ensured. This means that with appropriate training, equipment, manning / staffing, and incentives, there is nothing that this workforce cannot do to achieve the goals set by the City Council, Board of Correction, Department of Correction or any critic of the much maligned but most professional jail system in the Country.


[2] 56:20 – 57:10 at

[3] 51 minutes to 53:09 at