Justice

By placing punishment above all else, our criminal legal system tears apart countless lives and families—especially in Black and brown communities. We must end this injustice.

Treatment

To end mass incarceration, investing in care will be a vital solution. Decades of disinvestment, violent policing, and mass incarceration have disproportionately hurt those with functional impairments: intellectual disabilities, mental health issues, and substance abuse issues.

  • Treatment Not Jail (A1263) will dramatically expand access to diversion courts; give individuals accused of crimes the right to be evaluated by a certified mental health professional for eligibility for drug court or mental treatment court; and improve the services offered and the dignity provided by the diversion court system.

Incarceration

In Ulster County, where 87% of residents are white, 63% of those incarcerated in state prisons are Black, Latine and other people of color. To provide true safety for all, we must fix our broken system of justice, and invest in public goods.

  • A patchwork of laws poorly protects incarcerated New Yorkers, and Rights Behind Bars (A8364) provides a comprehensive solution to address issues with visitation rights, mail access, uses of force , segregated confinement, and due process rights.
  • End “death by prison” by passing Elder Parole (A2035), which allows those who are 55 and older and have served 15 or more consecutive years the opportunity to be considered for parole. Increasingly longer sentences have created an ever expanding population of incarcerated seniors.
  • Require the Parole Board to evaluate those eligible based on who they are today, not the severity of the original charge, by passing the Fair & Timely Parole (A162). Too many New Yorkers in prison are de facto denied parole despite being eligible by a slow, racially biased, and impersonal parole system.
  • Pass the No Slavery in New York Act (A3412) to end forced labor in prison. While the 13th amendment generally abolished slavery in the United States, it created a shameful exemption for prison labor, which must be end.
  • Give New Yorkers incarcerated with lengthy sentences the opportunity to apply for a Second Look (A531) to reduce their sentences. This legislation would allow judges to reduce prison sentences below draconian mandatory minimums.
  • Increase opportunities for incarcerated New Yorkers to reduce the length of their sentence with Earned Time (A1128) by engaging in educational, vocational, and treatment-related activities.
  • End Predatory Court Fees (A4183), such DNA databank and probation fees, which have had a disproportionate impact on working class communities of color.
  • Provide free phone calls for incarcerated individuals (A2164).

Accountability

On Dec. 22, 2020, a state trooper who was patrolling the New York State Thruway in the town of Ulster rammed a car, causing it to flip, leading to the death of 11-years-old Monica Goods. There is no true safety if we cannot hold law enforcement accountable.

  • End the defense of qualified immunity (A710) for law enforcement when they deprive the rights of New Yorkers, and provide a state cause of action that may be brought by injured individuals and the Attorney General.
  • Ban Dragnet Geolocation Surveillance (A3306) to stop law enforcement from conducting group searches based on location data and keywords searches.
  • Ban youth interrogations by police before they have consulted with a lawyer by passing the Justice for All Youth Act(A8923)
  • New York State promised to significantly increase funding to programs for at-risk youth after passing Raise the Age in 2018, but it has failed to do so. A6452 addresses this by expediting the disbursement of this critical funding.
  • Create a Prison Labor Board (A7452) to ensure prisons are following the labor law and incarcerated individuals are paid what they deserve. Clarify that Human Rights Law applies to correctional facilities (A2746).
  • Improve the Governor’s clemency process by passing the Clemency Justice Act (A155), which would create a more transparent, streamlined and just system for processing requests.
  • Expand access to Victims Compensation Funds (A2105) by removing the requirement that victims report the crime to police.
  • Allow families who have lost a loved one to recover compensation for emotional anguish by passing the Grieving Families Act (A6689).
  • Protect jury awards in discrimination cases from being reduced by the courts except in exceptional circumstances (A2865).
  • Expand the Commission of Corrections by adding 6 members (A5709). The bill would reduce the Governor’s control over the body, and bring people onto the commission with more diverse experiences. Currently, all the commissioners have worked in correctional administration.
  • Convicted felons currently cannot serve on juries even after they should have full citizenship rights upon release from prison. The Jury of Our Peers (A1432) ends this ban.
  • In legalizing cannabis, New York state intended for the benefits of legalization to disproportionately flow to individuals and communities most impacted by the war on drugs. Unfortunately, it’s currently unclear if people on parole can work at licensed cannabis shops, A9311 clarifies that under most circumstances, they can.

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