Members of the Black Freedom Project, A Coalition of Black Organizers and Advocates Across New York State, and New York State Legislators Rally for the Passage of the Less Is More Act
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Follow online: #LessIsMoreNY | www.lessismoreny.org
New York, NY– Today, Black activists and organizers from the Black Freedom Project (BFP) and allied state legislators sounded the alarm on the urgent need to pass the Less Is More Act (S.1144- Benjamin / A.5576- Forrest) this legislative session.
The Less Is More Act would have an immediate impact on the more than 35,000 people on parole supervision in New York. The bill eliminates mandatory detention for a technical violation, restricts the use of incarceration as a sentence in most technical violations, bolsters due process, provides speedy hearings, and provides an earned time credit for those on parole.
New York State’s parole system has a significant impact on Black people, families and communities. New York’s parole process drives mass incarceration and prevents the state from investing millions into Black communities impacted by mass incarceration. Parole in New York is also wrought with racial disparity: In New York City, Black people and Latinx people are 12x and 4x more likely to be incarcerated for a technical parole violation. In New York State, Black people are incarcerated for technical violations of parole at 5x the rate of whites, and Latinx people are 30 percent more likely than whites to be reincarcerated for technical parole violations.
The Less is More bill, S.1144- Benjamin / A.5576- Forrest, is supported by over 275 community & advocacy groups across the state, and several elected officials throughout New York. A full list of supporters and more information on the Less Is More Act can be found at www.lessismoreny.org.
Quotes from elected officials and Members of the Black Freedom Project:
Senator Brian Benjamin, Prime Bill Sponsor, said: “Too many people are being sent back to prison for non-criminal parole violations, especially Black and brown people. As we see time and again in the criminal justice system, the racial disparities are glaring; in NYC, Black people are reincarcerated at a rate of nearly 12x more than white people. Instead of incarcerating people for minor things – like missing a parole appointment or being late for a curfew – we need to make sure that people who are navigating re-entry after prison have the support they need to successfully complete parole. I’m proud to be a primary bill sponsor. We must pass Less Is More now.”
Assemblymember Latrice Walker said: “As a strong champion of criminal justice reform, I support Less Is More vehemently. In my district, I witness the impact the parole system has on our Brooklyn residents. Across the state Black people are re-incarcerated at higher rates for technical parole violations than any other racial group. That is woefully unacceptable and has got to change. It’s time for Less Is More to pass this session.”
Assemblymember Pamela Hunter said: “Technical violations committed by people on parole pose no threat to the public. If the goal is to reduce recidivism, people should not be reincarcerated based on a technicality. We should pursue solutions that continue efforts toward rehabilitation and stability as those on parole reenter society.”
Assemblymember Khaleel M. Anderson said: “I am proud to stand alongside the Black Freedom Project and the #LessIsMoreNY campaign today in our continued fight for parole justice – particularly the immediate end to technical parole violations that keep largely Black and brown people left in cycles of disenfranchisement. New York incarcerates more people for technical parole violations than any other state in the country. It is past time to address this issue at the root cause. If a person has ‘paid their debt to society’ then why do we continue to punish? And if we continue to place barriers for these people who are no longer behind bars, are they truly free? The #LessIsMoreNY legislation sponsored by my colleagues Assembly Member Phara Souffrant-Forrest and Senator Brian Benjamin is of tremendous, urgent importance – it must be passed now.”
Jawanza Williams, Director of Organizing with VOCAL-NY said: “In an era of racial reckoning, where the movement to end mass incarceration and State violence against Black and brown people, for the state of NY to use technicalities to return people on parole to prison is deeply disturbing. VOCAL-NY’s Civil Rights Union’s leadership demands that NYS passes the Less is More legislation not only because it would secure many folks’ freedom, but because we want to live in an egalitarian society where Black people are free!”
Jared Trujilio, Policy Counsel and the New York Civil Liberties Union, said: “New York state must take a bold and overdue step to curtail the one of the most regressive parole systems in the country by passing the Less is More Act, which will end our state’s inhumane practice of detaining New Yorkers for non-criminal technical parole violations. This legislation recognizes that people on parole who have committed no new crimes should be with their communities and families, not behind bars for missing an appointment. The state legislature must pass the Less is More Act without delay.”
Avion, Member of the Katal Center for Equity, Health, and Justice, said: “The fact remains that I could be re-incarcerated for a technical parole violation at any given time for any given reason by my parole officer. Something as simple as being late for curfew, police contact or even a false anonymous report with zero credibility could cause me to get violated. Even more, we see the racial disparity that exists in New York, people of color are incarcerated for technical parole violations at a much higher rate than others. For these reasons and more we need parole reform. We need Less Is More to pass in this legislative session.”
Shawn Young, Co-founder, All Of Us Community Action Group, said: “The time is now! We must continue to take strides towards a more just society. Less is More would give those on supervision or parole hope and a real opportunity to be successful. By removing the obstacles in the way of making a better life for one’s self you not only impact that person but the rest of our community. Less is More moves us toward a world where those who are formerly incarcerated are no longer second class citizens.”
ABOUT: The Black Freedom Project (BFP) was established in late 2019 by a statewide coalition of Black-led and centered organizations and advocates, growing out of intersecting struggles and efforts to further build a Black Liberation movement in NYS. Collectively we resolve to grow and mobilize grassroots power by expanding Black-led organizing infrastructure, base-building capacity, supportive relationship-building and campaign collaboration.
BFP envisions a world where the most marginalized Black people in New York State: 1) are able to fully realize their humanity; 2) Access democratic and equitable engagement in political, financial, labor, educational (and other) institutions shaping their lives; 3) can live free from the constant threat of State and/or extralegal violence and other forms of suffering; and 4) have full physical, socio-political and economic access to participate.