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The New York Civil Liberties Union and The Legal Aid Society Sue for Release of People Jailed for Alleged Parole Violations


On April 4th, the New York Civil Liberties Union [NYCLU] and The Legal Aid Society filed a class-action lawsuit against Governor Cuomo and the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) challenging the unconstitutional automatic jailing of people held in New York City jails while waiting for a hearing for alleged parole violations. The lawsuit demands the opportunity for release of over a thousand people jailed in New York City jails for alleged parole violations in light of the uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus and the dangerous public health conditions in these facilities. The lawsuit argues that people are being automatically detained during this crisis, in many cases now without even a probable cause hearing, in violation of their rights, often for something as small as failing to register a new address, reporting a change in employment, or for missing a meeting with their parole officer. This is a death sentence, and it is unfathomable that the Governor and NYS lawmakers refuse to pass the #LessIsMoreNY legislation into law to decarcerate the state and save lives.

  • The complaint and the memo of law in support of their motion for a preliminary injunction are available to view here and here
  • The affidavit from DOCCS’s lawyer, Andrew Amer, which cites legislative consideration of #LessIsMoreNY as a reason that the court should not order people to have a ruling before a neutral decision-maker before they can be held indefinitely, pending a revocation hearing, is available to view here.

Cuomo has been getting a lot of praise for his handling of the COVID-19 crisis but has done almost nothing for people in jails and prisons. Despite his statements to release a fraction of the more than 5,000 people in jail and prisons for technical violations of parole, he hasn’t even fully followed through on that. It’s time to decarcerate. #FreeThemNOW.