Statement: NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson Calls on Albany to “Fix the System” Including Passing the Less Is More Act
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 20, 2019
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NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson Calls on Albany to “Fix the System” Including Passing the Less Is More Act
The Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice Applauds NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson for Confronting Issues with the Parole System Head On and His Commitment to Strategies and Reforms that will Further Decarcerate NYS
Albany Must Demonstrate the Same Leadership Through the Passage of Transformative Parole Reform Legislation #LessIsMoreNY
NYC Speaker Corey Johnson gives Criminal Justice Reform Address at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
New York, NY – Thursday, May 16, 2019, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson gave an address at John Jay College of Criminal Justice on how our criminal justice system should function in the 21st century. The address included “Fix the System” initiatives and legislation that would ensure New York City remain the safest big city in the United States, by moving forward with a holistic approach that will keep crime down and keep all communities safe. Advocates of parole reform applaud Speaker Corey Johnson for confronting the issues with New York’s deeply broken parole system head on.
For the issue of parole, the Speaker’s “Fix the System” package includes programmatic initiatives for reform that would complement transformative legislation, the Less is More: Community Supervision Revocation Reform Act (S.1343B – Benjamin / A.5493A – Mosley). The Council will urge the State to pass this bill and fund programs that will provide an array of services to people on parole.
As New York City moves forward with the process to closing Rikers Island, the question of people on parole detained at Rikers looms large. The increasing number of people detained for state parole violations in New York City’s jails not only overuses incarceration for technical violations, but is also slowing the closure of the City’s jails on Rikers Island and increasing the estimated size of the Mayor’s proposed borough-based facilities.
The City is taking steps in the right direction with their commitment to parole reform through their “Fix the System” initiatives, but there is only so much that the City is capable of doing in the effort to decarcerate. Lawmakers in Albany need to demonstrate the same leadership shown by the City, through the passage of the transformative Less Is More act. By passing this bill, the state can ensure that the detention population shrinks in New York City and the future detention footprint in the City is smaller – much smaller – than what is currently under consideration in Mayor de Blasio’s plan.
"For too long our criminal justice system in New York City has unjustly punished people of color like myself who are trying to rejoin their families, their communities, and their workplaces following incarceration. This was made evident in the recent Gothamist article, which details the scandal of Administrative Law Judges in NYC being pressured to incarcerate people on parole for technical violations. That's why I applaud Speaker Corey Johnson's criminal justice reform agenda, and welcome his endorsement of the Less Is More Act, which is now pending in Albany,” said Donna Hylton, Director of the Women and Girl’s Project at the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice. "By enacting this platform, the City can expedite the closure of Rikers Island jail complex and bolster fairness and Justice for New Yorkers. But the City can't do this alone – to close Rikers, we need the Legislature to pass, and the Governor to sign, the Less is More Act. Right now, there are over 700 people detained in NYC jails not because of a criminal charge, but because they were hit with a technical violation of parole, like missing a meeting with a parole officer. People are getting stuck in an endless cycle of injustice. I know this personally, from my own experience following my release after spending 27 years in prison, and from the countless stories of formerly incarcerated people I hear every day– especially from the women I work with and serve. With the Less is More Act, we can fix this. We need more of our City Council members to join Speaker Johnson in endorsing Less Is More, and we need the Legislature and the Governor to immediately pass this bill and make it law. By passing Less is More, New York can strengthen public safety while reducing the number of people in jails and prisons across our state. It is time to chart a new path to the justice and freedom for all New Yorkers that we deserve.”