Brooklyn Boro

Advocates: ‘We cannot follow Gov. Hochul down the path of mass jailing, mass inequality’

April 5, 2023 Robert Abruzzese
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CITYWIDE — Several days after the official budget due date, a group of coalitions representing over 200 organizations statewide, including the Fund Excluded Workers Coalition, CUNY Rising Alliance, Housing Justice for All, Sunrise Movement NYC, and the Alliance for Quality Education, issued a statement in response to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s actions to stall the budget unless legislators agree to her plan to revise the bail law, which would result in the increased jailing of Black, brown, and low-income individuals before trial.

The coalitions are collectively fighting for a safer, healthier, and more just New York, urging lawmakers to make significant investments and policy changes to enhance community safety rather than reinforcing a system that perpetuates poverty, inequality, and despair, which contribute to violence and insecurity.

They call for the rejection of any budget deal that includes changes to bail laws, resulting in increased pre-trial jailing. The coalitions also express concern over recent reports of attempts to roll back New York’s discovery law, calling for its rejection as well.

Prior to the reform, the state’s discovery laws were often criticized for being antiquated and contributing to wrongful convictions, delayed trials, and unequal treatment of defendants. The reform aimed to ensure that defendants have timely access to crucial evidence and information, which can help them make informed decisions about their case, prevent wrongful convictions, and promote a more equitable and efficient justice system.

“We cannot follow Governor Hochul down the path of mass jailing, mass inequality, and mass desperation,” the statement said. “We cannot shield our eyes from the humanitarian crisis in our jails and allow our elected representatives to condemn more people there to be traumatized and physically and emotionally scarred for life. That would be a victory for the racist politics of mass incarceration – more people, families, and communities destabilized, more wrongful convictions, more people losing their housing, their jobs, custody of their children, more immigrants being deported.”

The statement emphasizes that following Governor Hochul’s path of mass jailing, mass inequality, and mass desperation would only result in more people, families, and communities being destabilized, more wrongful convictions, and more individuals losing housing, employment, and custody of their children.

The coalitions argue that the safest communities have the best schools, highest-paying jobs, most stable housing, and greatest access to healthcare, including mental health care and drug treatment.

Advocates claim that by taxing billionaires and raising more revenue, New York can invest in community safety and equity. They urged lawmakers to address these massive gaps through deep investments and policy changes. The coalitions maintain that bail reform is not the issue and call on legislators to deliver a budget that promotes safety and fairness for all New Yorkers.


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