Community-based organizations (CBOs)—including leading gun violence interrupters and reentry nonprofits—were at the table for Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams’s budget briefing on public safety in Inwood last Wednesday, May 3. 

“We’re making historic investments to support organizations like [Jackie Rowe-Adams’s Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E.] and to transform public safety,” said Hochul. “Take those challenges and turn them into better days for our communities across the state. Because there’s my firm belief that every single New Yorker deserves to feel safe and to be safe in their communities.”

The Fortune Society’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer Stanley Richards called the budget’s $31.4 million for alternatives to incarceration programs and $11.5 million for post-prison reentry services a “moment of celebration.” Increased funding will go toward organizations like the Fortune Society to rebuild lives of justice-impacted New Yorkers after they come home. At the press conference, Richards estimated the nonprofit serves around 10,000 people. 

But Richards expressed anxieties to the Amsterdam News over Hochul’s bail reform rollbacks, which held up the same budget after state lawmakers dissented. Ultimately, a concession was made to continue to give judges further discretionary powers to ensure defendants returned to court, while pruning a “dangerousness” standard when determining bail. 

“This [funding] is significant in terms of our ability to provide services that help people rebuild their lives, prevent people from getting caught up in the cycle of mass incarceration, and providing tools that allow communities to thrive and create safe communities, so we’re really thankful for this budget,” said Richards. “At the same time, we are cautious and concerned that this budget included language that could result in judges detaining more people and widening the net of who [is] incarcerated.” 

RELATED: Hochul’s New York State budget finalized a month late

During the briefing, Hochul said she supported bail reform’s “core premise” and acknowledged a defendant’s wealth is frequently the determining factor in detainment at Rikers versus going home after arraignment. The comment was not lost on Richards, who pointed out that bail is merely meant to ensure the defendant shows up for court. 

Meanwhile, Rowe-Adams—who lost two sons to gun violence—supported both scaling back bail reform laws and funding second-chance organizations like the Fortune Society, strongly commending Hochul as an ally of Black and brown New Yorkers. The governor in turn thanked the lifelong Harlemite “for her courage” and called her a “beacon of hope” during the briefing. 

But funding remains an issue—despite Hochul’s shoutout, Rowe-Adams said Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. primarily receives city funding. She adds that localized victim services like hers can often be overlooked. 

“We have been fighting for us to get money—the victims, the support groups,” she said. “It takes forever for us to get it [from the city] but we get it to do the programs, we have to. We have bereavement counseling, we do social and emotional workshops. So we definitely need money.”

Despite its diverse resources, Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. is narrowly-focused on gun violence prevention. Rowe-Adams is well-known uptown for her role next to those who lose loved ones to shootings. 

“We are the ones grieving and [fighting],” she said. “We’re talking to the other parents that have other kids. And we are going to the schools, the victims, because we know the pain of the families. We know the pain when they get killed out there. And we go to the mothers and fathers and the families come to us, but we get overlooked.”
Tandy Lau is a Report for America corps member and writes about public safety for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep him writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting

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