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A collage of book covers, including Richard Wright's Native Son
What You Can’t Read Behind Bars in New York

As book banning sparks outrage in schools and libraries, the censorship of classics like Native Son persists in New York prisons.

Rebecca McCray   ·   January 24, 2024
Governor Kathy Hochul stands with a hand on her hip next to a New York state trooper on a cloudy day.
Kathy Hochul’s Copy-and-Paste Crime-Fighting Formula

This year, the governor’s budget contains an agenda to combat retail theft. It looks a lot like last year’s plan to curb gun violence.

Chris Gelardi   ·   January 16, 2024
Here’s Every Bill That Kathy Hochul Vetoed in 2023

One hundred and fifteen laws that almost were.

New York Focus   ·   January 3, 2024
The back of an open prison transport van
He Was Sick, So They Sent Him to Prison

New York jails can transfer people with mental illnesses to maximum security prisons, even while they’re legally innocent.

Chris Gelardi   ·   December 21, 2023
Attica Correctional facility exterior in grayscale, with bright TV static behind.
This Agency Is Supposed to Monitor Jails. Is Anyone Monitoring It?

The State Commission of Correction has been stumbling for decades — with millions of incarcerated people caught in the lurch.

Eliza Fawcett   ·   December 18, 2023
A jail cell with keys in the lock seen through a dirty window.
Demystifying the New York Parole Board’s Murky Decisions

In New York, many incarcerated people don’t know how to secure their freedom. A court fight could clear up the lethally opaque process.

Nathan Porceng   ·   December 18, 2023
Correctional officers are being blocked from a door of a prison on the left side of an illustration. They walk around the corner, removing their uniforms, only to be welcomed back to a door on the right side of the prison. Their uniforms are returned to them in the process.
‘A Crazy System’: How Arbitration Puts Abusive Guards Back in New York Prisons

Over a 12-year span, three out of every four state correctional officers fired for abuse or covering it up got their jobs back.

Alysia Santo and Joseph Neff   ·   December 14, 2023
The Rochester Police Accountability Board’s Long Fight to Unionize

Can an oversight group be in the same union as the police it monitors?

Maggie Duffy   ·   December 13, 2023
New NYPD officers smile amid blue and white confetti at police academy graduation ceremony.
NYPD Instructs Officers to Tase, Pepper Spray People Experiencing Debunked Syndrome

Police training materials link the discredited “excited delirium syndrome” to synthetic marijuana use.

Chris Gelardi   ·   December 12, 2023
State Senator Julia Salazar speaks at a podium.
Sweeping Salazar, Souffrant Forrest Bill Targets Rogue Prisons and Jails

The legislation cites multiple New York Focus investigations in its attempt to safeguard the rights of incarcerated people.

Chris Gelardi   ·   December 7, 2023
‘A Waste of Time’: Inside New York’s Broken Jail Accountability System

The state council that reviews grievances spent an average of eight seconds on each case in its last meeting — and rejected nearly all of them.

Eliza Fawcett and Chris Gelardi   ·   December 4, 2023
Court of Appeals judges stand and clap for Caitlin Halligan
New Pro-Defendant Decisions Signal Sea Change at New York’s Top Court

The rulings shed light on the leanings of Caitlin Halligan, the court’s newest judge and frequent tie-breaker.

Sam Mellins   ·   November 30, 2023
Chief Judge Rowan Wilson sits on the Court of Appeals bench.
New York’s Top Court Just Narrowed the Case That Spelled Doom for Bloomberg’s Soda Ban

While the United States Supreme Court seeks to restrict the government’s ability to regulate, the New York Court of Appeals is broadening it.

Sam Mellins   ·   November 28, 2023
How County Jails Sidestep Solitary Confinement Law

New York imposes strict regulations on “segregated confinement.” What if it’s just called “confinement”?

Eliza Fawcett   ·   November 22, 2023
As Overdose Deaths Mount in New York Prisons, Treatment Program Crawls

The prison department doesn’t track overdose deaths in its custody. A New York Focus analysis found that the overdose death rate has tripled.

Jake Neenan   ·   November 9, 2023
They Were Supposed to Be Free. Why Are They Locked Up?

New York has kept hundreds of people convicted of sex offenses in prison long past their release dates.

Chris Gelardi   ·   October 17, 2023
NYPD Vans in front of the New York County Surrogate's Court at 31 Chambers Street.
Police Discipline Comes Before the Court of Appeals

The state’s top court will settle disputes between Rochester, Syracuse, New York City, and their police unions next week in three cases that could reshape police discipline across the state.

Nathan Porceng   ·   October 13, 2023
New York Sheriffs Tried to Kill Jail Opioid Treatment Law

The Sheriffs’ Association lobbied against a bill to provide medication for opioid addiction in jails. Since it passed, they’ve failed to evaluate thousands of people for treatment.

Spencer Norris   ·   October 12, 2023
Combative Bronx Judge Faces Calls for Removal

Acting Supreme Court Justice Ralph Fabrizio has faced formal complaints for berating and threatening lawyers in more than a dozen incidents.

Sam Mellins and George Joseph   ·   October 6, 2023
How Not to Close a Jail

A surprise plan to shutter a jail in Syracuse’s Onondaga County spurred a chaotic political skirmish — and left local incarcerated people in the lurch.

Chris Gelardi and Chris Libonati   ·   October 5, 2023
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