Close this search box.

Release: Campaign Issues Status Report on Largely Successful Less Is More Parole Reform


December 14, 2022

Contact: Yonah Zeitz, | (347) 201-2768 

Emily NaPier Singletary,  | (315) 243-5135

Follow online: #LessIsMoreNY • 

NEW REPORT: In First Year, Implementation of the Less Is More Parole Reform Law Is Largely Successful, Some Challenges Remain  

Progress Thus Far Includes Almost 13,000 People Earning Early Discharge From Parole and Nearly 90% Reduction in the Number of People Detained in Local Jails for Noncriminal Technical Violations

Albany, NY – Today, the #LessIsMoreNY campaign released a new report summarizing the first year of implementation of the Less Is More: Community Supervision Revocation Reform Act. The report highlights the reform’s successes, challenges with implementation so far, and recommendations to Governor Kathy Hochul and the state legislature for how to address those challenges.  

After years of work by a statewide coalition – composed of more than 300 faith and organizations, District Attorneys, law enforcement, former corrections officials and more  – the New York State Legislature passed the Less Is More Act in June 2021, and it was signed into law by the governor on September 17, 2021. By September 2022, all the provisions of Less Is More had taken effect. The law allows thousands of New Yorkers to live their lives without the constant threat and stress of being automatically incarcerated for noncriminal technical violations, like missing an appointment with a parole officer or being late for curfew. It prevents people on parole from being uprooted from their jobs, families, and lives for making minor mistakes that do not pose a threat to public safety. Rather than instant incarceration as was the previous practice, Less Is More requires the use of community based interventions to address noncriminal technical parole violations. It bolsters due process for people accused of parole violations, and provides earned-time credits for people who comply with the rules, so they can earn early discharge from parole.

Drawing on personal stories and data from the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the new report shows that in the first year of the new law, implementation has been largely successful and the impacts have been extraordinary: 

  • More than 800 people accused of noncriminal technical parole violations and detained in local jails at the time the law was enacted were released.
  • Nearly 600 people serving time for technical violations in state prisons at the time the law was enacted were released.
  • The number of people detained in local jails for technical violations decreased by more than 87 percent.
  • Nearly 13,000 people earned early discharge from parole, reducing the state’s total parole population by almost 40 percent.
  • Six state prisons closed, in part due to passage of this law, including the Willard Campus which almost exclusively housed people who returned to prison for technical parole violations.

But as with any new law that upends previous practices, there have also been challenges with implementation. The new report released by the #LessIsMoreNY campaign today outlines these problems and provides specific recommendations for fixing them. And the campaign continues to work with the governor’s office, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), and the Office of Court Administration (OCA) to resolve these issues, most of which concern precise details about how alleged violations are treated and how hearings are conducted under the new law. 

Less Is More puts New York at the forefront of shifting parole supervision from an overly punitive system to one focused on supporting effective reentry and keeping communities safe. This is a massive turnaround from just a few years ago: prior to #LessIsMoreNY, more than 31,000 people were on parole in New York State. For years, New York held the distinction of imprisoning more people than any other state for noncriminal technical violations of parole rules—like missing an appointment with a parole officer, being late for curfew, or testing positive for alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs. The entire process was marked by systemic racism, with Black and Latinx people much more likely to be re-incarcerated for these infractions than their white counterparts. New York State and its counties spent more than $680 million annually locking people up for technical violations with no commensurate public safety gains.

Today, we report that the passage and implementation of Less Is More represents a major step forward in the fight to end mass incarceration, advance racial equity, and strengthen public safety in New York. This legislation was informed, drafted, shaped and eventually passed by a remarkable array of partners who do not often work together – people on parole and their families; incarcerated people and their families; 8 district attorneys representing more than half the population of the state of New York; public safety officials including sheriffs and correctional experts; and more than 300 community, faith, and advocacy groups. While there is more work to be done, New York is showing how, for parole supervision, less use of incarceration can equal more safety and justice. 

Statements from bill sponsors, impacted people, and community groups from the #LessIsMoreNY Coalition: 

Assemblymember Phara Souffrant Forrest, Prime Bill Sponsor, said: “The advocates and legislators who fought to pass Less Is More always knew that it would have a massive positive impact, and now we have the proof that we were right. This legislation is changing lives for the better. Yet we cannot stop here. DOCCS must fully implement the law to ensure that technical violations do not continue to prevent New Yorkers from embarking on the path to recovery and reentry. We must continue to follow the path of Less Is More to a safer, healthier, fairer supervision system.”

Senator Julia Salazar, Chair of Committee on Crime Victims, Crime, and Corrections, said: “The implementation of the Less Is More Act has brought welcome and needed change to the lives of thousands of people on parole and has helped to decrease the number of New Yorkers impacted by the carceral system. I am elated to join the Less Is More campaign in celebrating these wins for our communities.”

Assemblyman David Weprin, Chair of Committee on Correction, said: The one year anniversary of the implementation of Less Is More is monumental. Prior to Less Is More, we were locking people on parole back up for something as simple as being late to a parole meeting. We all know the unreliability of the MTA and how easy it is to be a few minutes late. Should we lock someone back up for that? That’s just one of the many flaws in the criminal legal system. The system is plagued with injustices at a very systemic level and Less Is More is one step towards justice. We must protect it and keep fighting for more change.”

Emily NaPier Singletary, cofounder and co–executive director of Unchained, said: “The numbers don’t lie, and neither do the thousands of stories from people across the state who have benefitted from the Less Is More Act. Less Is More is working as intended, safely shrinking our jail and prison populations and allowing people who have done well under parole supervision to move on with their lives. We are confident that, as implementation challenges continue to be addressed, in the years to come we will see data demonstrating that New York is safer and more racially and economically just as a result of Less Is More. We thank Governor  Hochul and our champions in the legislature and urge them to follow the recommendations in our report to ensure that the Less Is More Act lives up to its promise and New York charts a path for the rest of the country to follow.”

gabriel sayegh, cofounder and co-executive director of the Katal Center for Equity, Health, and Justice, said: “As our report shows, Less Is More is working. For parole supervision, less incarceration for technical violations means more justice, more safety, more families restored, and more possibilities for formerly incarcerated people to get back on their feet. The remarkable people sharing their stories in this report represent just a small fraction of the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who are today benefitting from this law. The findings in this report are not surprising, because our grassroots, statewide campaign developed this legislation with input from a wildly diverse array of stakeholders, from directly impacted people and their families to advocates and experts, from district attorneys and correctional officials to activists and faith leaders and crime survivors and so many more. Together we organized across the state and fought tooth and nail in Albany to pass this law, and together we’re working to make sure it’s implemented properly. A year of effective implementation, with such tremendous outcomes as outlined in our report, is the result of the work of so many, and we thank our amazing campaign partners and especially the members of the working group. We thank Governor Hochul and her dedicated team for their commitment to making Less Is More work as intended. And we thank members of the Assembly and Senate, particularly Senator Julia Salazar and Assembly Member David Weprin, along with Speaker Heastie and Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, for their steadfast support. And finally, we offer a special thanks to our bill sponsor Assembly Member Phara Souffrant Forrest, who championed this bill, and has stuck with it through the implementation process. We hope this report proves useful as we continue the necessary work to advance justice and create safer communities for all New Yorkers.”  

Magen, a member of Unchained from Syracuse, NY featured in the report, said: “When I found out that I could get off parole early because of Less Is More, it changed so much for me. I didn’t feel like I was crushed under this huge rock of being on parole for the next five years. Getting off parole opens up job opportunities for me that line up with my getting into programs at school. Now I can gain professional experience as I finish college and apply for jobs. I can go and live with my husband and have a good career. Less Is More made many of my dreams more accessible. There’s not going to be a long pause in my life because I have to finish a parole sentence that, before Less Is More, I had no chance to get off of.” 

Henry Robinson, a member of Katal from New York, NY featured in the report, said: “In 2017, I was incarcerated on Rikers Island for almost three months for a technical parole violation. I was put behind bars simply because I was defending myself from a ‘curfew’ violation warning. This is one example of the injustices that individuals endured under this system. That is why I fought tooth and nail to make sure that Less Is More became law. Now with the implementation of Less Is More, it has given my friends who are on parole the ability to take ownership of their lives and not have to go through what I went through.”

Ernest, a member of Unchained from Buffalo, NY featured in the report, said: “Getting off parole was the first time in my adult life that I felt free. I cried when I first got my release papers; it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I haven’t felt so happy in such a long time, I feel like I’m a completely different person because I’m off parole, thanks to Less Is More. My family is really excited because they’ve wanted me off parole for a long time. Now that I’m off, I’m going to try to get my passport. My wife really wants to go to the Bahamas, and I’m getting things in order for that to happen.”

Bobbi Leigh, a member of Katal from Jamestown, NY featured in the report, said: “For the longest time, I have been witness to how destructive the parole system was in New York prior to Less Is More. I have had loved ones on parole who struggle with addiction and mental health issues thrown back into jail for these minor infractions. All the parole system did was strip them away from their jobs and families, simply because they were late for curfew or tested positive for alcohol and other substances. Now that Less Is More has been implemented, I no longer have to worry about incarceration coming in between their recovery journey.”

Martin, a member of Unchained from Queens, NY featured in the report, said: “Being under post-release supervision before Less Is More was emotionally tolling for my family because they were restricted by my restrictions. I was born in the U.S., but my family is from Colombia. My father was deported back there in 2013. I have elderly family members there. Parole told me ‘Don’t even think about asking for permission to visit my family members in Colombia while under post-release supervision, and it really broke my heart, especially because my grandfather passed away there while I was in prison, and I wasn’t able to see him in the years before he died. Now, because of Less Is More, I’ve begun the process of applying for my passport. I can go to Colombia and surprise my father soon. My two daughters have never seen Colombia. I want to take my daughters there and introduce them to the culture and their family over there.”

Della Smith, a member of Katal from Brooklyn, NY featured in the report, said: I am a grandmother raising a 10-year-old granddaughter of a son soon to be on parole. I am beyond happy to know that the day my son is released on parole, we will not have to worry about him being unjustly re-incarcerated for something as minor as being late for curfew. Thanks to the Less Is More legislation, so many individuals in New York State finally have the opportunity to fully move forward with their lives. As a member of Katal, I worked endlessly to ensure the success of this legislation, and I will not stop until we can guarantee that the $680 million saved by the implementation of the bill is used to support services and opportunities that can help address the barriers which many individuals on parole are confronted with when they return home to their families and communities.”

Background about the issue and the #LessIsMoreNY Campaign

#LessIsMoreNY is a statewide campaign of community groups, service providers, and public safety experts who worked together to develop and pass, and now implement the #LessIsMoreNY Act. Restricting the use of incarceration for technical parole violations and giving people incentives to comply with parole conditions will support them as they reenter their communities; reduce jail, prison, and supervision populations responsibly; promote safety and justice for families and communities; and save taxpayers money. The campaign is working to protect and implement the new law. The #LessIsMoreNY is led by the Katal Center and Unchained. For more information visit