September 17, 2021
Contact: Yonah Zeitz – 347-201-2768 – email@example.com
Donna Hylton – 347-350-5639 firstname.lastname@example.org,
Emily NaPier Singletary – 315-243-5135 email@example.com
Follow online: #LessIsMoreNY | www.lessismoreny.org
Announces First Step of Implementation: Immediate Release of 191 People Held at Rikers Island Jail Complex on Parole Violations
#LessIsMoreNY Coalition, Which Launched & Led Campaign for Bill Passage, Hails Most Significant Parole Reform Measure Ever Passed in the U.S.
New York, NY – Today, the #LessIsMoreNY Coalition, made up of people directly impacted by parole and mass incarceration, more than 300 community, faith, and advocacy groups, eight District Attorneys, and a bipartisan group of elected Sheriffs announced the signing of the Less Is More Act into law by Governor Kathy Hochul. This transformative parole reform will restrict the use of incarceration for non-criminal technical parole violations, bolster due process in parole hearings, require parole hearings to take place within a specified time, and provide earned time credit for parole. Less Is More is perhaps the most significant parole reform in the country to date – its impact will be enormous.
There are approximately 35,000 people on parole in New York. Everyday people on parole see their reentry back into the community from prison disrupted by a punitive parole system focused more on punishment than support. Today, New York sends more people on parole back to prison for technical violations than any other state, and sends more people on parole back to prison for “drug treatment” than all other states combined. In 2019 alone, approx. 40% of all new admissions to NY prisons were people on parole re-incarcerated after being accused of a minor, non-criminal technical violation. Today, nearly 5,000 people are incarcerated in prisons and local jails –including hundreds at Rikers Island — for noncriminal technical violations of parole. And the entire process is marked by systemic racism, with Black and Latinx people many times more likely to be re-incarcerated for non-criminal technical violations of parole than their white counterparts.
The Less Is More Act was introduced in 2018 by the #LessIsMoreNY coalition to address this problem. Its passage represents a major step forward in the fight to end mass incarceration, advance racial equity, and strengthen public safety in New York. Once implemented, Less Is More will:
Now law, Less Is More must be implemented. The effective date of the law is March 2022, but the law includes a provision that allows Governor Hochul to implement all or parts of the law immediately.
Statements from elected officials, impacted people, and community and advocacy groups from the #LessIsMoreNY Coalition:
Derek Singletary, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Unchained, said: “It’s a new day in New York! The Less Is More: Community Supervision Revocation Reform Act is the most transformative parole reform legislation ever passed in the nation. No longer will New York have the distinction of reincarcerating more people for non-criminal technical violations than any other state. Instead, our parole system will reward successes rather than punishing struggles. This is a victory for racial justice and a victory for economic justice. More than 300 groups across the state and dozens of public officials across the political spectrum sent a resounding message that, when it comes to parole, less is more. We are grateful to Governor Hochul for signing the legislation and to Lt. Governor Benjamin for carrying the bill in the Senate prior to accepting his new position, as well as to Assemblymember Souffrant Forrest. Unchained looks forward to its swift implementation.”
Donna Hylton, Founder of A Little Piece of Light, said: “I applaud Governor Hochul’s leadership in criminal justice reform, and her swift action that recognizes the basic rights and human dignity of people. I am thrilled today has arrived, as – I’m sure – are the thousands of New Yorkers who will reenter society because LessIsMoreNY is now law. It is a victory for the women who have suffered behind bars for small parole missteps, especially women of color who have been disproportionately impacted. It is a victory for their families, for their communities, for society. And a victory for me personally. As a woman who was imprisoned for 27 years at Bedford Hills, and who spent time at Rikers Island, I know what a troubling place it is. With ten deaths in the last nine months, it became a public safety and health crisis. Today acknowledges those who died, although tragic, did not die in vain. LessIsMoreNY sets a precedent. But there is more to be done. We must now help these women find housing, rejoin the workforce, reintegrate with their families and communities, and most of all, recognize their full potential.”
Kenyatta Muzzanni, Director of Organizing at the Katal Center for Equity, Health, and Justice, said: “The signing of #LessIsMoreNY into law is a huge step forward, for not only New York, but for the entire country, because this bill is a model for smart parole reform. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers and their families who have been harmed by broken parole practices will instead be given the chance and support they need to succeed. And once implemented, this bill will get us one step closer to closing Rikers Island for good. This fight has been led by the people on the ground impacted by systemic racism, parole, and mass incarceration, and could not have been won without them. We thank Governor Hochul for her leadership in signing this bill into law. And we thank the primary bill sponsors, former state senator and now Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin, and Assemblymember Phara Souffrant Forrest, for their leadership to get us here today. With Less Is More now signed, we are ready to work with Gov. Hochul and her team for its swift and effective implementation.”
New York Lt. Governor (and bill sponsor in the state senate) Brian Benjamin said: “I am thrilled that Governor Hochul is signing this historic parole reform bill today. When I was the state senator from Harlem, I introduced the Less Is More Act because the problem of mass incarceration had harmed our communities, and I knew we could have a safer, fairer, more just and equitable parole system in New York. I fought for years alongside the Less Is More coalition to get this bill through the legislature, and this year we finally did it. Today, as Lt. Governor, I am proud to stand with our Governor as she signs this bill into law. Through the Less Is More Act, we can strengthen public safety — that’s why it’s supported by District Attorneys and Sheriffs from around the state. And we can focus on racial justice and more effective reentry for people coming home from prison on parole — that’s why it’s supported by more than 300 groups from every corner and region of our state. Over time, this bill will save the state hundreds of millions of dollars each year, and those funds can be more effectively focused on creating a stronger, safer New York for all, in every region of our state. I would like to thank our partners in the legislature for their work, and I would also like to thank all the community organizations that worked so hard to get this bill passed, in particular the Katal Center for Equity, Health, and Justice; Unchained; and A Little Piece of Light.”
Assemblymember Phara Souffrant Forrest, Prime Bill Sponsor, said: “Today, with Governor Hochul’s momentous decision to sign the Less Is More Act, our movement has taken a great step toward justice. This win has taken years of tireless organizing, bringing together a wide coalition across our state. What our movement has shown is that diligent organizing and a clear message of moral clarity and urgency can bring justice for the communities that need it most. I look forward to the swift implementation of this bill, and to continuing the fight for justice for poor and working class communities of color.”
Senator Julia Salazar, Chair of Committee on Crime Victims, Crime, and Corrections, said: “New York imprisons more people for non-criminal ‘technical’ violations of parole than any state in the country. Now that the Governor has signed the Less Is More Act thousands of New Yorkers will be able to live their lives without continuously falling into the cycle of injustice that is our parole system. Mass incarceration not only harms individuals and their families, but leaves a long-term, negative impact on entire communities. The enactment of Less Is More is a very positive step, which we celebrate. Given the unprecedented human rights crisis at the jails on Rikers Island and at correctional facilities in New York, we still have more work to do. We must also take legislative action to further transform the parole system and to reverse the devastating toll of mass incarceration on communities of color across our state.”
Assemblyman David Weprin, Chair of Committee on Correction, said: “”For far too long, people who are on parole have lived in fear that a technical violation, like being late for curfew, would send them back to prison. We all know that life happens. Anyone who lives in New York is aware that subways and buses can run late and cause a missed deadline. A non-criminal technical parole violation should not be a reason for families to be separated from their loved ones. The Less Is More Act will help end the punitive practice of re-incarcerating individuals and allow them the chance to reintegrate into their communities.”
Michaelle C. Solages, Chair of the NYS Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, & Asian Legislative Caucus, said: “For too long, failed parole reform policies have directly impacted New York’s most vulnerable, often poor, Black and brown communities. Thanks to the leadership of Assemblywoman Souffrant Forrest and now-Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin, the state has a viable path forward to reduce correctional populations safely and equitably. The Less Is More bill, advanced by the Caucus and passed by the legislature, will save limited taxpayer resources and provide the reentry support people need to transition back into society after incarceration.”
Jonathan Lipmann, Chairman of a More Just NYC and former Chief Judge of the State of New York said: “Governor Hochul is taking a critical first step towards meaningful and safe decarceration by signing the Less Is More Act. The bill has the potential to significantly reduce the Riker’s population. We hope to see its immediate implementation to help address the dire situation at Rikers. We also must continue to act swiftly and safely to close Rikers, which continues to be a shameful stain on our City.”
Assemblymember Latrice Walker said: “The Less Is More New York Act is an essential part of reforming our criminal justice system. My assembly district is hugely impacted by the practice of violating parolees on technical violations which far too often leads to reincarceration. I would like to thank Governor Hochul for making this a priority during her first few weeks in office. We are committed to the continued movement of our criminal justice system to one that acknowledges when a citizens of our community have paid their debt to society, and need our support and resources not reincarceration.”
Assemblymember Emily Gallagher said: “New York’s broken parole system has contributed to the inhuman conditions at Rikers Island and jails across the state. With the Governor’s signature today, we can focus on helping people get back on their feet after prison, not threatening them with incarceration—and in the case of Rikers, possible death—for minor technical violations.”
Assemblymember Khaleel M. Anderson said: “Many of the families in my district have bright and prosperous futures that will be unlocked with the Less Is More Act enacted into law. We are indebted to these families and advocates who have fought tirelessly to amplify principles of rehabilitation and restoration. Governor Hochul, we urge you to implement the Less Is More Act as soon as possible.”
Assemblymember Kenny Burgos said: “There are individuals currently being held on Rikers Island for technical parole violations. They have been in custody for months without a court hearing and are living in deteriorating and inhumane conditions. I am pleased that Governor Hochul has signed the Less Is More Act as it would significantly reduce mass incarceration in our state’s jails. I also thank Assemblymember Forrest and now Lieutenant Governor Benjamin for leading the bill’s passage. It is my sincere hope that this new law is implemented as soon as possible so we can finally put an end to this humanitarian crisis.”
Lee Winkelman, Field Team Organizer, New York Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC-NY), said: “RAC-NY celebrates Governor Hochul for signing the Less Is More Act, a new law that transform’s New York’s parole system that had been the worst in the country. Reform Jews throughout the state worked hard to win the support for Less Is More because it embodies the Jewish principle of T’shuva, that everyone can turn their life around. The Less Is More Act will increase racial justice in New York’s criminal justice system, strengthen public safety, and save the State money.”
The Reverend Peter Cook, Executive Director at New York State Council of Churches, said: “The New York State Council of Churches thanks Governor Kathy Hochul for signing the Less Is More bill into law. For far too long, so many previously incarcerated New Yorkers have needlessly been threatened with reincarceration if they miss a curfew or appointment while on parole. Parole is not a bureaucratic game of “gotcha” where we make it as hard as possible for people to renew. Parole is intended to help people improve their lives by giving them a path to reunite with their families, get a job, secure housing and give back to their communities. Less Is More will ensure that parole will be based on the ideal of restoration instead of the principle of revenge. We are so grateful for the leadership of former State Senator and now Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin, Assemblywoman Phara Souffrant Forrest and so many other legislators to secure passage of Less Is More in the Senate and Assembly and to Governor Hochul for having the courage and compassion to sign it.”
Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said: “New York’s regressive parole regime is finally getting the overhaul it has desperately needed to end the vindictive, discriminatory, and inhumane practice of incarcerating people on parole for non-criminal technicalities. Now, New York will stop incarcerating people for most technical violations, limit sanctions for others, end the practice of automatic incarceration before parole violation hearings, and afford people accused of violating parole their right to a speedy hearing before a judge. Thanks to the tireless advocacy of people on parole and their families, New York will reduce inequity within our broken criminal legal system and champion restoration over incarceration.”
Tina Luongo, Attorney-In-Charge of the Criminal Defense Practice at The Legal Aid Society, said: “With the stroke of a pen, New York now finally turns the page on a draconian parole revocation system that helped perpetuate mass incarceration for decades. The legislation – if implemented by the New York State Department of Correction and Community Supervision (DOCCS) immediately – will provide essential relief to the ongoing humanitarian crisis at Rikers Island by securing the release of over two hundred people currently held on non-criminal, technical parole violations. The Legal Aid Society lauds Governor Kathy Hochul and the Legislature for enacting this critical bill into law which will literally save lives.”
JoAnne Page, President & CEO of the Fortune Society, said: “We are enormously grateful that Governor Hochul is signing the Less Is More bill into law. We at the Fortune Society have watched as conditions at Rikers Island have gotten more and more dangerous. The people confined there are suffering grievously to the extent that some have taken their own lives. The conditions at Rikers Island need to be drastically improved until Rikers is closed down. Less Is More will, as soon as it goes into effect, prevent people accused of breaking parole’s technical rules from being locked up under conditions that are cruel, dangerous, and totally unjustified by the charges against them. We applaud Governor Hochul for signing this bill in to law. It will, literally, save lives.”
Kendra Bradner, Director of Columbia Justice Lab’s Probation and Parole Projects, said: “We applaud Governor Hochul for signing this bill, and thank the bill sponsors, Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin and Assembly Member Phara Souffrant Forrest, for introducing and carrying the bill. We are proud to have stood alongside directly impacted leaders and advocates for the two-plus years it took to secure this win. Less Is More is arguably the boldest, most comprehensive supervision reform effort in the nation. This can help create a pathway to real justice for many thousands of people, families, and communities across the state. By making parole supervision more fair, less harmful, and anchored by real due process, Less Is More will help end New York State’s mass supervision and mass incarceration crises and move us one step closer toward racial justice and equity in the criminal legal system.”
Dr. Vanda Seward, Director of the Criminal Justice Program at CUNY Kingsborough Community College and Former Director of Reentry Services for New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, said: “The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision is a system built on power and authority not justice. It will take many reforms to transform the criminal justice system into a fair and equitable system. Governor Hochul signing the Less Is More Act into law signifies a new beginning toward redemption for individuals, families and communities impacted by the current parole violation process. The Less Is More law will allow all to see what I hope is the governor’s commitment to changing an unjust system that has been destroying the lives of individuals who have proven that they are law abiding, taxpaying citizens of the State of New York for years.”
Tim Donaher, Monroe County Public Defender said: “Thank you to the New York State Legislature and Governor Hochul for ending our unjust parole system that needlessly incarcerated thousands of our fellow citizens for minor, non-criminal parole violations. I appreciate the leadership shown by Lt. Governor Benjamin, and Assembly Member Phara Souffrant Forrest in advocating for Less Is More and the leadership of Governor Hochul in signing this vital legislation. Thanks to their collective efforts, we can now look forward to implementing Less Is More and ensuring our parole system is concentrating on rehabilitation and restoration instead of unnecessary incarceration.”
The League of Women Voters New York City Committee for Criminal Justice Reform, said: “Thank you Governor Hochul for signing Less Is More. We applaud and support your leadership in reforming Parole and Criminal Justice policies in New York State. Signing Less Is More into law and closing Rikers are important steps in making New York a more fair and just state.”
Kenneth Edwards, Leadership & Organizing Specialist at the Center for Employment Opportunities, said: “Today the Center for Employment Opportunities thanks Governor Hochul for recognizing the need for systemic change. The signing of #LESSISMORENY into law will spare thousands of individuals on parole and their families years of incarceration. We can now focus deeper into alternatives to incarceration that will benefit the multitude. Reentry programs like CEO remain ready to assist with employment opportunities, and other vital support needed for a successful reentry.”
Kandra Clark, VP of Policy & Strategy, Exodus Transitional Community, said: “Exodus Transitional Community is excited to see the Less Is More bill signed into law! This bill is vital to the safety of our communities. As a justice-impacted organization, far too many of our staff and participants have been negatively impacted by technical violations. No longer will our loved ones languish behind bars for violations. Families will remain together and our communities will be stronger for it. We thank our justice impacted community members and allies for making this day possible. Together, people can move government.”
Susan C. Bryant, Executive Director at New York State Defenders Association, said: “We applaud Governor Hochul for signing the Less Is More Act. Each year, thousands of New Yorkers on parole are needlessly incarcerated for weeks and months for alleged technical violations, harming individuals and families, a disproportionate number of whom are Black and brown. Less Is More will change that without impacting public safety. The Act will also provide needed due process protections and provide earned time credits for not violating supervision conditions. We thank the Governor and the sponsors for making Less Is More a reality in New York.”
Sharon White-Harrigan, Executive Director of Women’s Community Justice Association, said: “This is a momentous occasion in the signing of the Less Is More Bill. We thank the new Governor Kathy Hochul for recognizing the importance of this bill and how many lives it will impact and improve in and out of this dehumanizing system. This is the start of changing the landscape and the trajectory of people’s lives. So much more work to be done, however we start with acknowledging that LESS IS MORE!!!!!!!”
Alice Fontier, Managing Director of Neighborhood Defender Service, said: “The signing of Less Is More is a huge step towards justice for New York, and we call for its speedy implementation to protect New Yorkers who face imprisonment in deadly conditions on Rikers Island for petty parole infractions like being late to a meeting or missing curfew. Its signing is cause for optimism. However, amid that optimism we must also recognize that the need to decarcerate stretches beyond parole reform. To that end, we call on city and state leaders to use every tool at their disposal to reduce the jail population, and specifically urge the mayor to use Correction Law Article 6-A to release all eligible New Yorkers, urge District Attorneys to stop seeking bail, and urge judges to stop setting it. It’s a matter of life and death.”
Lori Zeno, Executive Director of Queens Defenders, said: “It is a momentous day for New Yorkers across the State — particularly low income residents of color who have shouldered disproportionate levels of incarceration. The Less Is More NY Bill being signed by Governor Hochul will bolster due process, lead to fewer individuals re-incarcerated for technical parole violations, and will create incentives that will break the cycle of incarceration and help people lead fulfilling lives in their communities.”
Stan Germán, Executive Director at the New York County Defender Services, said: “We applaud Gov. Hochul for signing the Less Is More legislation to enable the release of hundreds of persons detained on technical parole violations. This law will provide a critical safety valve to relieve the overpopulation at Rikers Island, but it is not the end of our humanitarian nightmare. We hope that Governor Hochul’s leadership will inspire other institutional stakeholders like NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, criminal court judges and the city DAs, to match her courage and moral clarity, and invoke the legal mechanisms available to them to release the thousands of people that remain in this unspeakable hell.”
Dr. Jocelynne Rainey, President & CEO, GOSO – Getting Out & Staying Out, said: “GOSO is overjoyed that the persistence, courage and advocacy by formerly incarcerated people, especially those who have experienced the horror of Rikers Island, and that of their families, neighbors and communities, have brought about this historic result. No longer will New Yorkers be incarcerated for technical violations of parole, or languish in jail while on parole with no access to a speedy and public hearing. Whether this mechanism would free 1 or 1,000 people, it needs to be immediately exercised. We are thankful to Governor Hochul for her swift action and leadership in signing this bill into law and freeing hundreds of our loved ones and neighbors during a humanitarian crisis in New York City jails.”
Alison Wilkey, Director of Public Policy, John Jay College Institute for Justice and Opportunity, said: “We applaud Lieutenant Governor Hochul for signing Less Is More: Community Supervision Revocation Reform Act. Many of our students can now live without fear of being sent back to jail arbitrarily and risk losing their classes and financial aid. We commend the New York State Legislature and the Governor for beginning to transform New York’s punitive parole system into one where people can thrive.”
Scott Levy, Chief Policy Counsel at The Bronx Defenders, said: “The Bronx Defenders celebrates the signing of the Less Is More Act. It is a critical step toward remaking our broken parole system and decarcerating our jails and prisons. Incarcerating people, disproportionately Black and Brown New Yorkers, for technical parole violations is cruel and counterproductive. This bill will allow thousands of New Yorkers to maintain stable housing, keep jobs, and take care of their families.”
Tia Strother, Project Coordinator at Black Freedom Project, said: “In the moment of a humanitarian crisis at Rikers Island, we applaud Governor Hochul for signing the Less Is More Act into law, which will prevent people on parole from being re-incarcerated for minor, non-criminal infractions, and provide due process, rather than rip people on parole away from their communities. We congratulate the impacted people who shared their stories and their tireless advocacy for the sake of our communities. We celebrate the people who will be able to rejoin their families and communities as a result of this law. The time to decarcerate NY jails is now; the crisis at Rikers, where incarcerated people are crammed into showers for days at a time, is only one of many reasons why we need to decarcerate now. Notably, the Less Is More Act’s effective date is March 2022. We need the Governor to implement this bill immediately, so that our people can be free from the horrors on Rikers Island and in jails across the state.”
Lt. Diane Goldstein (Ret.), Executive Director of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) said: “We were proud to support the Less Is More Act alongside district attorneys, police, and county sheriffs, current and former corrections, parole, and probation commissioners, and the former Chief Judge of the State of New York. This new law will improve public safety by allowing New York to focus correctional and supervision resources on the greatest threats to safety while removing barriers to re-entry which disproportionately affect people of color.”
Tara Klein, Senior Policy Analyst at United Neighborhood Houses, said: “United Neighborhood Houses is thrilled to stand with Governor Hochul as she signs the Less Is More NY Act (S.1144A/A.5576A) into law. The settlement houses we work with are attuned to the individual- and community-level trauma that comes from people being removed from their communities for a nonviolent parole violation and placed back in an isolated institution. By ending the practice of arresting someone for a technical parole violation and strengthening due process provisions, we can begin to heal this trauma and strengthen communities, while also reducing over-incarceration and saving the State money. Thank you to Governor Hochul for her bold action today and to the bill sponsors, Lt. Governor Benjamin in the Senate and Assemblymember Souffrant Forrest, for championing this legislation.”
Dyjuan Tatro, Government Affairs Officer & Alumnus of The Bard Prison Initiative, said: “#LessIsMoreNY represents a major step forward in the fight to end mass incarceration in New York. This legislation reforms the state’s racially disparate, wasteful & punitive parole system in a cost saving, justice oriented manner. As someone directly impacted by parole, I want to thank Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin for championing this bill and Governor Kathy Hochul for signing it into law. 4,000 New Yorkers are currently incarcerated on technical violations of parole at a cost of $680 million taxpayers, dollars a year. Four hundred of them are trapped on Riker’s Island in deplorable conditions. This bill is going to save money and save lives.”
Francis Pascuzzi, Member of the Katal Center, said: “Less Is More would allow me the ability to see my mom again. I haven’t held her since 2008, she’s not doing well. The implementation of this law will give me the opportunity to earn time off my parole sentence and get to see my mom and the rest of my family sooner. I thank Governor Hochul for signing this legislation and bringing forward transformative parole reform in the state of New York. However, we need the Governor to enact the legislation as soon as today so that we can decarcerate jails and prisons by releasing people being held on technical parole violations and give people who are currently on parole the opportunity to get off and move forward with their lives.”
Jackie Gosdigian, Senior Policy Counsel at Brooklyn Defender Services, said: “People are suffering in New York City jails, and every single person freed from this escalating humanitarian crisis is another life spared. Hundreds of New Yorkers jailed at Rikers Island and many more across the state are currently incarcerated simply because of ‘technical’ violations of parole, such as missing a curfew or being late to an appointment with a parole officer. We thank Governor Hochul for signing the Less Is More Act, which will free thousands of New Yorkers from jails around the state and ensure no one will be re-incarcerated for an alleged technical parole violation. We urge the Governor and the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to immediately implement Less Is More to free people now, as this crisis cannot wait any longer. The enactment of this law is just one vital step towards much-needed decarcerartion, and we demand our elected leaders, prosecutors, and judges take further action to reduce the jail population before another life is lost.”
Annette Gaudino, Director of Policy Strategy at Treatment Action Group, said: “By enacting Less Is More, Governor Hochul has taken a significant step towards ensuring due process in New York State. All credit for this win goes to everyone who fought tirelessly to end the pointless cycle of punishment from technical parole violations. This law is especially important given the inhumane conditions in NY jails and prisons, the ongoing COVID-19 emergency, and the unmet needs of people with substance use disorders.”
Carlos Aguilera, Member of the Katal Center, said: “The Less Is More NY Act will allow me to live my life freely. I will finally be able to reconnect with my family. I have been on parole for six years. And after all that time I, and every other person on parole, will finally be recognized for our years of good behavior. People finishing parole early is a true blessing, because it gets rid of the fear of being sent back to jail for a simple mistake, like being late to a parole meeting. I am glad that Governor Hochul is finally going to support us, but she needs to implement Less Is More immediately, so people on parole can finally be free from this abusive system.”
Anthony Maund, Member of the Katal Center, said: “As someone who is currently on parole, I am so happy that Governor Hochul has signed #LessIsMoreNY. I have been fighting for this Bill since I was incarcerated for a non-criminal technical parole violation because of the impact it will have on my life and that of others on parole. There is no reason for there to be about 5,000 people incarcerated in jails and prisons across New York State because they were either late for curfew or tested positive for alcohol and more. With the signing of #LessIsMoreNY the Governor should move quickly to bring them back home, there is no time to waste!”
Yamirca Vazquez, Member of the Katal Center, said: “Less Is More NY, is going to make such a huge difference for everyone who is currently on parole. This bill will have a positive impact on mental health, because people will no longer be living in fear of being sent back to jail for a small mistake. It was the continued persistence of our communities and families that brought us this win.”
Robin Lawrence, Member of the Katal Center, said: “With the signing of #LessIsMoreNY, people on parole in the state of New York will finally be given a fighting chance to successfully reintegrate back into the community. No longer will they have to constantly worry about their every action. They won’t need to worry about being incarcerated because they were late for curfew or about other minor infractions of their parole conditions. Today I thank Governor Hochul for signing the legislation and I ask that she moves forward with implementing it immediately for this is greatly needed to save lives and keep families together.”
Shaun Whitaker, Member of Katal Center, said: “I didn’t know about Less Is More NY until I had been hit with a technical violation myself. While I was back in jail, I wanted to learn more about criminal justice reform. When I came back home I joined the Katal Center, which allowed me to get connected to valuable information that has brought me so much peace of mind. Less Is More NY, was made by people on parole, for people on parole. We need to have this bill implemented immediately, so we can stop the unnecessary suffering. This bill passing will eliminate the fear of missing a call from my parole officer, or being late to a meeting. I won’t have to fear asking for help when it comes to substance abuse counseling.”
Tomas Garita, Co-Chairman of the NYC Brown Berets, said: “For decades underserved communities have received the short end of the stick, getting the Less Is More bill signed is a step in the right direction. Black and Latino communities have been disproportionately impacted by old and barbaric laws that focus on incarcerating and not rehabilitating. It’s far past the time we decarcerate prisons and jails and focus on restorative justice initiatives. Signing the Less Is More legislation takes us a step closer to permanently closing down Rikers Island.”
Jasmine Bracy, Member of the Katal Center, said: “We have all witnessed the destruction that Covid-19 brought upon our incarcerated loved ones. We are currently witnessing the horrific conditions in which the people incarcerated at Rikers Island are in due to our governments’ negligence. This is why now more than ever we must decarcerate our jails and prisons in order to save lives! The #LessIsMoreNY legislation takes us one step closer to ending mass incarceration by reducing the number of people being put behind cages for minor infractions of parole. Words don’t explain the happiness that I am feeling. We are completely Grateful to Governor Hochul for signing the #LessIsMoreNY legislation, but I cannot stress enough how important it is for her to implement it immediately.”
Charles Grosso, Member of the Katal Center, said: “With the Less Is More NY passing I can finally say that after 40 years of incarceration, I will soon truly be free. It’s the efforts of the Katal Center and our community that got this bill passed and signed. By being off parole, I feel like I am a true member of the community again, I can be a productive member of society with this second chance. With this second chance, I do my work at my local homeless shelter without fear of being re-arrested, that wouldn’t be possible without Less Is More NY.”
Julia Paul, Member of the Katal Center, said: “There are so many people on parole, who have an impossible time maneuvering through life because of the ridiculous restrictions. People struggle to spend quality time with their families, find employment, and re-enter into their communities because of the parole system. Less Is More NY would end this, and give people on parole a new-found freedom.”
Courtney Burke, Member of the Katal Center, said: “New York State incarcerates more people for technical parole violations than any state in the country. These violations are not new crimes. Parole was first established to offer assistance to newly released people, but the current parole system thrives on throwing people back in, rather than assisting people with their transition back into society. Signing and immediately implementing Less Is More NY will enable people on parole to return to their communities without the daily fear of being thrown back in jail. Their time has already been served.”
Emily and Robbie of Spoke & Feather, said: “The Less Is More Act is a truly transformational piece of legislation. As Governor Hochul signs it into law we want to let her know, on behalf of our family and tens of thousands of NY families, how truly grateful we are for this life-changing law. Living under parole/community supervision can feel like driving on an icy road in a storm, no matter how well you follow the rules, at any moment, your whole life can go skidding out of control. Less Is More will allow justice involved individuals and their families to thrive after incarceration by removing the constant threat of re-incarceration for technical violations and encouraging pro-social behavior. Thank you to the Governor for her signature, the Lt. Governor for his sponsorship in the state legislature, and to all the lawmakers and activists who made this historic day possible.”
Aundray Jermaine Archer, Paralegal and Case Manager with The Legal Aid Society of Westchester County, said, “The less incarcerated people we have who are already part of the solution, the more we have an opportunity to make real substantive change. We’re grateful to be on the right side of history and that #LessIsMoreNY is signed into law.”
Michael Hendrickson, Member of the Katal Center, said: “Today is truly a momentous occasion! The signing of the Less Is More NY Act is the biggest step ever taken in New York to end mass incarceration and mass criminalization. For too long the NYS Department Corrections, with inadequate oversight, has incarcerated thousands upon thousands of New Yorkers needlessly and senselessly. A person who has not committed a crime should never be incarcerated just because they may have been previously. Too many lives have been destroyed by this unjust practice. Today people on parole or community supervision can take a huge sigh of relief to know that Governor Hochul sees and understands the fear that they have been living under. Thank you, Governor Hochul, for making #LessIsMoreNY a reality and let us continue to move forward in New York to end mass incarceration, and to close Rikers Island and state prisons across New York.”
Michelle Jaskula, Member of the Katal Center, said: “It is great that NYS is going to finally sign the Less Is More Act into law. So many folks who are on parole will no longer have the fear that the hard work they’ve done to move forward and better their lives can be taken away for foolish reasons. The $680 million dollars that will be saved through the enactment of this legislation can be better spent in funding schools and so many other programs that will help all New York residents. Governor Hochul, thank you for signing Less Is More into law and I urge that you implement it immediately.”
Bobbi Leigh, Member of the Katal Center, said: “Less Is More has been such an important legislation to me because I have loved ones that have done their time in prison for a simple curfew violation. The signing of the Less is More legislation is such a huge step in the right direction for our community to help end this terrible cycle of catch and release. The $680 million dollars that will be saved should be better spent in funding that improve our communities. I want to thank Governor Hochul for signing Less Is More and urging her to keep the momentum going by putting this into action as soon as possible!
Amplifying Activists Together, said: “Today in making the Less Is More Act law, New York State signals that it can no longer afford the spiritual, emotional, and financial price our state’s criminal injustice system has extracted by incarcerating New Yorkers for non-criminal violations of their parole agreement. Now we call for the immediate release of parolees from Rikers and other prisons statewide so that they can return to their families and communities and, in doing so, make New York State and City stronger. Amplifying Activists Together views the passage of LIMNY as a signal that the state is serious about decarceration and we will continue to work for a New York that has rid itself of its prison industry and its abuses.”
TS Candii, CEO of Black Trans Nation, said: “I am honored to be a part of the Less Is More NY victory for parole reform. In years to come the state jail will reduce their human population, eventually closing Rikers Island. Black and brown lives are being restored. Families are being reunited. Humans are learning how to live again in normal society. Thank you.”
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, said: “Congregation Beit Simchat Torah believes in the ability of every human being to pursue a path of teshuva, the Jewish concept of restoring one’s relationship to the community and to one’s self, and we support New Yorkers’ efforts to build better lives for themselves, their families, and their communities following incarceration. We applaud and thank Governor Hochul for signing #LessIsMoreNY and helping to create a more just New York by eliminating reincarceration for most technical parole violations”
About the Less Is More Act and the #LessIsMoreNY Coalition:
Parole supervision, and the resulting incarceration of people for technical parole violations, disproportionately impacts Black people, families and communities. Parole in New York is 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 Act impacts the more than 35,000 people on parole supervision in New York, improving public safety while strengthening the reentry process. The law restricts the use of incarceration for most technical violations, bolsters due process, provides speedy hearings, and provides an earned time credit for most people on parole.
About the #LessIsMoreNY Campaign: #LessIsMoreNY is a statewide coalition of more 300 community, faith, and advocacy groups; 8 District Attorneys from the counties of Albany, Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Nassau, Tompkins, Ulster, & Westchester; law enforcement leaders from across New York including the Albany, Erie, and Tompkins County Sheriffs, and more. The Coalition came together to develop and pass the Less Is More: Community Supervision Revocation Reform Act (S.1144A—Benjamin/ A.5576A—Forrest). Restricting the use of incarceration for technical violations of parole will support people in reentering their community after incarceration; responsibly reduce jail and prison populations; promote safety and justice for families and communities; and save taxpayers money. The coalition led the fight to pass the Less Is More Act, and now calls on Governor Hochul to implement the bill immediately, capture the savings that will result from reform, and reinvest those savings back into the communities most harmed by mass incarceration and crime.
A full list of supporters and more information on the Less Is More Act can be found at www.lessismoreny.org.