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Less Is More

There are approximately 35,000 people under active parole supervision in New York State who at almost any time can see their efforts to successfully rejoin the workforce and reintegrate into their families and their communities disrupted by reincarceration for a technical violation. This not only harms individual lives and families without commensurate public safety gains, but also drives up the population in the state prisons and local jails, wasting taxpayer money.

New York imprisons more people for non-criminal “technical” violations of parole like missing an appointment with a parole officer, being late for curfew, or testing positive for alcohol and other drugs than any state in the country.

Less is More: Community Supervision Revocation Reform Act (S.1144A – Benjamin / A.5576A – Forrest)

Developed by people on parole, people currently incarcerated, family members, Katal, Unchained, Justice Lab at Columbia, A More Just NYC, Legal Aid, and more, the bill is sponsored by NY State Sen. Brian Benjamin (S.1144A) and Assm. Phara Forrest (A.5576A).

Provisions

  • Restricting the use of incarceration for technical violations

    Incarceration would be eliminated as a sanction for most technical violations. Certain technical violations could still result in jail time, but it would be capped at a maximum of 30 days.

  • Bolstering due process

    Rather than being automatically detained in local jails, people accused of a technical violation of parole would be issued a written notice of violation with a date to appear in court and would remain at liberty for any hearings. People on parole accused of a new criminal offense would be afforded a recognizance hearing in a local criminal court before they are detained, and the standards of the bail reform statute will apply.

  • Providing speedy hearings

    Persons under community supervision shall be afforded a speedy adjudicatory hearing upon an alleged violation of their conditions of release. Hearings would be conducted within 30 days rather than taking up to 105 days.

  • Providing earned time credits

    People under community supervision would be eligible to earn a 30-day “earned time credits” reduction in their community supervision period for every 30-day period in which they do not violate a condition of supervision.

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While on parole, I always felt the threat that any little mistake I made, whether it was showing up late for an appointment or being late for curfew, my parole officer would send me back to prison. 

Yamira Vazquez, 2021

By the Numbers

6,300

Of people on parole whom New York sent back to prison in 2016, over 6,300 or 65% were reincarcerated for technical parole violations.

1/3

Nearly 1/3 of the new admissions to state prisons are due to people reincarcerated for technical violations of parole.

86%

86% of people on parole who were reincarcerated were not convicted of a new crime.

12X

The racial disparity is stark: Black people are incarcerated in New York City jails for technical parole violations at more than 12 times the rate of whites.

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The need for legislation like Less is More to be implemented has been long overdue. We need to make sure that we are giving our people the proper chance to move forward with their lives in the community.

Avion Gordon, 2021

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