The just-signed “Less is More Act” prevents people on parole from being sent back to prison for non-criminal violations of their parole, including being late to a meeting or missing curfew. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the bill into law Friday in large part because Rikers Island, New York City’s primary jail complex, is in a state of crisis. 

“The population at Rikers Island has reached 6,000 as a result of bail roll-backs and as a result of prosecutors and judges setting bail in so many cases where they shouldn’t,” Martin LaFalce, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society, told Capital Tonight. “It’s resulted in a horrible humanitarian crisis.”

Rather than being automatically detained in local jails, under this new law, a parolee accused of a technical violation would be issued a written notice with a date to appear in court. He or she would remain at liberty for any hearings. 

The new law also provides for speedy hearings, and enacts a system through which parolees may earn time credits.

These measures are designed to ease crowding in prisons like Rikers, where about 5% of the prison population is inside for technical violations. 

Republican lawmakers have argued that “Less is More” is more proof that Democrats are going easy on criminals.  

At the same time, advocates are urging Hochul to use her executive power to implement the law immediately. If she doesn’t, the law will go into effect in March 2022.