Today, NYC Mayor Eric Adams announced the appointment of two women in the criminal justice field and the expansion of crime prevention programs at a press conference in the South Bronx.
Holding court at South Bronx NeON (Neighborhood Opportunity Network), locate at 198 E. 161st St. in Concourse Village, Adams unveiled the reappointment of Ana Bermúdez, as commissioner of the Department of Probation (DOP), and the appointment of Deanna Logan, as director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ).
The mayor also announced the city’s new commitment to connect every young person on probation aged 21 and under with a credible messenger mentor — someone with experience in the justice system who is committed to preventing others from following in their footsteps. Also, the city will create a massive expansion of its NeON Works programming, which offers classes, training and resources for New Yorkers on probation in their own community. This includes adding a full lineup of NeON Sports and Nutrition Kitchens to create more opportunities.
The Credible Messenger Justice Center — an interdisciplinary national training and research center co-founded by the Department of Probation under Bermúdez’s leadership — also released new research on transformative mentoring today. “A Gathering Movement” highlights the work of jurisdictions from across the country that have participated in DOP credible messenger program learning immersions in New York City and are actively building community-based mentoring programs as part of their own efforts to similarly prevent crime and further advance community justice.
“The prerequisite to prosperity is safety and justice —and the two go hand in hand,” said Adams, a moderate Democrat. “If we are going to make our city safer and more just for all New Yorkers, we need to lead with evidence-based policies and upstream solutions. Commissioner Bermúdez and Deanna Logan are proven reformers who share my vision for the criminal justice system, and I look forward to working with them to ‘Get Stuff Done.’ We want to expand this (NeON) and continue to give services on the ground.”
Adams said there are three layers in his criminal justice prevention plan: to teach people why they don’t need to pick up a gun, to ensure prisons have the services needed to rehabilitate people and that those released from prison have a good support system.
“We need to attack this from every level,” he said. “This is so important as many of these people are coming back to the same conditions that got them in trouble,” he said.
Each year, more than 200,000 people are arrested in NYC and more than 30% of that group will be locked up again within a year, a study by the Data Analytic Recidivism Tool found. According to the National Institute of Justice, almost 44% of criminals released from incarceration return before the first year out of prison. In 2005, about 68% of 405,000 released prisoners were arrested for a new crime within three years, and 77% were arrested within five years.
Factors contributing to recidivism include a person’s social environment and community, their circumstances before incarceration, events during their incarceration and one of the main reasons, difficulty adjusting back into normal life.
With these alarming numbers Adams knows how important crime prevention programs are.
Today we made three major announcements for the upstream justice we deserve.
FIRST: Every person under 21 years old on probation will be connected with a credible messenger mentor to help guide them on the right path. Data shows this initiative is key to combating recidivism. pic.twitter.com/34UjCe9kcE
— Mayor Eric Adams (@NYCMayor) February 28, 2022
The mayor also heaped praise on Bermúdez and Logan.
Bermúdez is the DOP’s first openly LGBTQ+, first Latina and second woman to serve as commissioner. She began her career representing children in family court cases at the Legal Aid Society. For 30 years, she has been an advocate for teenagers and young adults involved in the justice system through the development of strengths-based interventions, the application of restorative and youth development practices and the designing of programs that ensure readiness for a successful future.
“We need leadership and I’m proud to reintroduce and reappoint Ana Bermúdez as commissioner of the Department of Probation,” Adams said. “This appointment is so important to us.”
In her role as commissioner, Bermúdez will continue to lead the department and oversee the New York City probation officers. Before becoming commissioner in 2014, she served as deputy commissioner for juvenile operations at DOP.
“I am honored to be given the opportunity to continue working with the tremendously dedicated probation officers who serve this city — the agents of change of the justice system,” Bermúdez said. “Our idea of public safety is that the greatest power to shape someone’s future is found in the very communities in which they live, and neighbors, helping each other, become powerful allies of our officers in the important work of this department.”
Logan joined MOCJ in July 2019, most recently serving as general counsel and deputy director of crime strategies. Prior to that, she spent three years at the Office of the Bronx District Attorney as a bureau chief. She worked with District Attorney Darcel Clark to design, establish and supervise the Rikers Island Prosecution Bureau.
Logan grew up in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, where many people she knew lost their lives to gun violence. Now, in her new role, she hopes to make the streets safer and help put people on the right path.
“My career is dedicated to fighting for justice and accountability for everyone. I share deeply Mayor Adams’ urgency in confronting the public safety challenges we face as New Yorkers,”Logan said. I look forward to continuing to work closely with our justice system partners to find equitable, innovative, and resourceful solutions to keep all our communities safe.”
While Bronx Bough President Vanessa Gibson and Clark praised the appointments by Adams, not everyone in the city was pleased.
Dalvanie Powell, president of The United Probation Officers Association (UPOA), a union representing more than 700 active probation professionals in New York City, issued a statement in response to Adams’ decision to reappoint Bermúdez.
“If Mayor Adams is serious about making New York City safer, why is he reappointing a Probation Commissioner who will continue the failed policies of the de Blasio Administration,” Powell said. “If Mayor Adams is serious about supporting law enforcement officers, why is he reappointing a commissioner who has consistently disrespected probation professionals?
“Under Commissioner Bermudez’s leadership, unconscionable pay disparities were allowed to persist in the department, impacting a workforce that is majority women and people of color, and she hired employees from outside of the department, passing up dedicated, qualified officers for promotion. The administration’s lack of respect for the work of Probation is what led to a surge of departures over the last eight years, many leaving for higher-paying positions in other departments in neighboring counties.”
Reach Jason Cohen at [email protected] or (718) 260-4598. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.