CNY Solidarity Members and Supporters:
The CNY Solidarity Coalition was asked to sign onto a letter of support from a coalition of New York groups calling for the passage of the Less is More Act, which will correct a set of significant injustices in the parole system. The Coordinating Committee decided to sign on for the Coalition since they felt the request was aligned with our core beliefs and values. The timing was urgent as the bill will need support this week and criminal justice reform has been an important issue in the state committee. We have an opportunity to work with the momentum for change that we have worked so hard to create in the NYS legislature. This demonstrates our commitment to stand with marginalized and oppressed groups in our community. The Syracuse Peace Council, one of our founding member organizations, has also signed on.
Some important information from Unchained.
A quick statistic about how this impacts Onondaga County specifically: In 2018, there were 87 people in either Jamesville Correctional Facility or the Justice Center on any given day just on technical parole violations. This means every day in our county 87 people were sitting in jail for committing no new crime, but simply violating the conditions of their parole such as missing curfew, being in the company of other people with criminal records, or testing positive for drugs. Five years ago in 2014 that number was 41. So the number of people we’ve been locking up locally for technical parole violations has more than doubled in just five years. This trend is consistent across the state: parole is driving up incarceration numbers in both local jails and state prisons by locking people up for things that are not even crimes.
Read the letter below. If you have any questions for the coordinating committee please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
New York Groups Calling for Passage of the Less is More Act
(S.1343A—Benjamin / Assm. Same-As # pending, Mosley)
New York reincarcerates more people on parole for technical violations like missing an appointment with a parole officer, being late for curfew, or testing positive for alcohol than any state in the country except Illinois.i Of people on parole whom New York sent back to prison in 2016, over 6,300 or 65% were reincarcerated for technical parole violations.ii That’s five times the national average. Nearly 1/3 of the new admissions to state prisons are due to people reincarcerated for technical violations of parole. Only 14% of people on parole who were reincarcerated were returned to prison because they were convicted of a new crime.iii The racial disparity is stark: Black people are incarcerated in New York City jails for technical parole violations at more than 12 times the rate of whites.iv
There are approximately 35,000 people under active parole supervision in New York State who at almost any time can see their efforts to successfully rejoin the workforce and reintegrate into their families and their communities disrupted by reincarceration for a technical violation.v This not only harms individual lives and families without commensurate public safety gains, but also drives up the population in the state prisons and local jails, wasting taxpayer money.
The Less is More: Community Supervision Revocation Reform Act would fix this problem. Developed by people on parole, people currently incarcerated, family members, and groups across NY, the bill is sponsored by Sen. Brian Benjamin (S.1343a) and Assm. Walter Mosley (Same-As number pending). Its provisions include:
- Providing earned time credits. People under community supervision would be eligible to earn a 30-day “earned time credits” reduction in their community supervision period for every 30-day period in which they do not violate a condition of supervision.
- Bolstering due process. Persons under community supervision shall be afforded a recognizance hearing in a local criminal court before they are detained, pending adjudication of an alleged violation of their conditions of release, whether a technical violation or a new criminal charge is alleged.
- Providing speedy hearings. Persons under community supervision shall be afforded a speedy adjudicatory hearing upon an alleged violation of their conditions of release.
- Restricting the use of incarceration for technical violations. Incarceration would be eliminated as a sanction for most technical violations. Certain technical violations could still result in jail time, but it would be capped at a maximum of 30 days
We, the undersigned, call for swift passage of the Less is More Community Supervision and Revocation Reform Act to reduce jail and prison populations; support people who are subject to community supervision in the reentry process; promote safety and justice for families and communities; and save taxpayers money.
Officials and Groups Supporting the Less is More Act, as of 2.4.2019
(in alphabetical order)
Eric Gonzalez, King County District Attorney
David Soares,, Albany County District Attorney
Cy Vance, New York County District Attorney
Bronx Defenders (Bronx)
CNY Solidarity Coalition
Drug Policy Alliance (statewide, national)
Exodus Transitional Community (NYC)
Greenburger Center (NYC)
Incarcerated Nation (NYC)
It Can Happen to You (statewide)
Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice (NYC, Albany, Hudson)
Syracuse Peace Council
[i]United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Probation and Parole in the United States, 2016(Apr. 2018), Appendix Table 7, available at www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ppus16.pdf#page=22.
[iii]Id. The rest were almost all reincarcerated to receive treatment.
[iv]Vincent Schiraldi and Jennifer L. Arzu. Less is More in New York: An Examination of the Impact of State Parole Violations on Prison and Jail Populations. (2018), available: https://academiccommons.columbia.edu/doi/10.7916/D8RZ0Q06
[v]NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Community Supervision Staffing Legislative Report, available at www.doccs.ny.gov/Research/Reports/2018/Community-Supervision-Staffing-Report-2018.pdf.