October, 2021 marks six years since then-Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, and then-Legislative Director Nick E. Smith passed legislation to prohibit employers from asking about criminal records prior to a conditional offer of employment. In 2020, the team passed Fair Chance Act 2.0, which added violations, including Walking While Trans, and ACD's, to the list of prohibited questions.
The law has benefitted thousands of New Yrokers, many of them people of color. In a statement, the Public Advocate and First Deputy said the following:
Public Advocate Williams:
First Deputy PA Nick E. Smith: "As the nation moves away from the ridiculous `lock them up’ strategy that has disproportionally devastated black and brown communities, policies like the Fair Chance Act help reverse the harm done. Regardless of whether someone has made a mistake or not, denying employment based on a record only takes us backwards.”
In testimony to the City, First Deputy Public Advocate Nick E. Smith called for a true end to solitary confinement, rather than the proposed measures that would end the practice "in name only," at a hearing of the New York City Board of Correction on Wednesday night.
"Ending solitary confinement means more than re-arranging the deck chairs," he argued. "It means protecting the health and safety of those who are incarcerated, providing real opportunities for those who violate protocols to grow and improve, and abolishing punishment for punishment’s sake. Our Office looks forward to reviewing a revised version of these Rules that live up to these moral imperatives."
First Deputy Public Advocate Nick E. Smith called for reforms to the NYPD disciplinary process in testimony at a public hearing by the Civilian Complaint Review Board. The hearing was convened after the NYPD released a new disciplinary matrix to formalize response to officer misconduct.
He highlighted the recent movement for change and the city and nationwide protests, as well as the response by law enforcement. Citing instances of misconduct not explicitly enumerated, he argued that, "[w]e have seen several instances where the Police Commissioner has determined that NYPD officer's actions against protestors were not a violation of the NYPD guidelines. For example, using an NYPD car to run over protests may be immoral even if it did not violate the use of force guidelines."
In February 2021, Crain's New York Business spotlighted the work Nick's partic to increase workplace protections for employees, provide property tax relief to homeowners due to COVID-19 and improve public safety. He joined many other Notable Black Leaders in several different industries.
Photo (c) Davaughn Cunningham.
In late 2019, City and State Magazine recognized Nick in that year's 40 Under 40 class of New Yorkers impacting their fields. He joined numerous public figures who were honorees in years past, including Borough Presidents, Council Members, Non-Profit Executives, others.
Photo (c) Celeste Sloman/City & State Magazine
How did you get where you are today? "I was fortunate. I knew that I wanted to be a policy maker at 15 years old. My political awareness started in 2000, when I saw Florida government officials systematically disenfranchise black and brown voters to prevent them from voting for their choice of Presidential candidate."
"The system was designed to disenfranchise us. The laws traditionally pertained to us punitively. However, we are successfully changing that narrative. We are mainstream in that we are occupying spaces that aren’t meant for us.” -Nick E. Smith, 2019 Class of Strivers. www.striversrow.co Photo (c) CreatedByJarrod
Nick Interviewed in Role as First Deputy Public Advocate by Manhattan Deputy Borough President Matthew Washington.
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Nick accepts City and State Magazine's 40 Under 40 Award.
Nick joins Village Independent Democrats, NYers Against Gun Violence, Man Up, Inc. and others to discuss best practices to reducing gun violence.
Nick, an original author of NYC's #BantheBox law, joins sponsors Public Advocate Williams, Borough President Brewer and a panel of experts to commemorate and discuss how to expand. The PA passed #BantheBox 2.0 which expanded 1.0 to cover violations, including Loitering for the Purpose of Prostitution, and Adjournments in Contemplation of Dismissals.
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