Democrats in the state Legislature on Tuesday have reached an apparent agreement on a bill that would reform New York's parole system that would expedite being discharged from the parole system and setting a new standard for when an arrest warrant is issued for a parole violation.
The "Less is More Act" is among a package of parole law changes state lawmakers are considering in the final week of the legislative session. An amended version of the bill was introduced this morning, enabled lawmakers to vote on it by the time the legislative session concludes on Thursday.
Democratic lawmakers this year are continuing a push to overhaul the state's criminal justice system from the point of arrest to incarceration and this case release from prison.
The tentative bill is meant to incentivize good behavior to end parole early and limit re-incarceration for people who violate the technical terms of their parole and shortening the adjudication process.
“New York’s parole system is biased, broken, and expensive—costing over $683 million per year and needlessly destroying thousands of lives, all while doing nothing to make us safer. New Yorkers of every background overwhelmingly support reform, and we are encouraged to finally see action in Albany," said Alexander Horwitz, the executive director of New Yorkers United for Justice, a criminal justice reform organization.
Lawmakers and advocates are also pushing for changes that would enable the expunging and sealing of criminal records as well as enabling older people who are incarcerated to gain parole.
Advocates at the People’s Campaign for Parole Justice urged lawmakers to continue forward with the remaining parole-related measures on the table.
"Lawmakers can’t declare victory on parole reform until they address a Parole Board that disproportionately denies release to Black and Latinx people," said advocate Jose Saldana. "They can’t declare victory on parole reform as long as our system of parole leaves people to grow old, sick, and die in prison for no reason. They can’t declare victory until they create a system that centers redemption over permanent punishment. In order to do that, they must pass the Elder Parole and Fair & Timely Parole bills this session.”