Tuesday, September 22th, 2020
Yonah Zeitz, [email protected] | (347) 201-2768
Yan Snead, [email protected] | (518) 360-1534
Follow online: #LessIsMoreNY www.lessismoreny.org
#LessIsMoreNY Campaign Testifies at Senate Joint Committee Regarding Impact of COVID-19 on Prisons and Jails in New York
In Midst of Pandemic, New York Could Save Lives By Passing #LessIsMoreNY Act To Decarcerate Prison and Jails
New York, NY – Today, the New York Senate Standing Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections and Senate Standing Committee on Health is holding a joint public hearing regarding the impact of COVID-19 on jails and prisons in New York. While we have flattened the curve in New York and are far along in phased reopening, too little has been done to address the impact of the pandemic on people detained in prisons and jails in the state. Jails and prisons remain the top-ten COVID-19 cluster sites in the county and as of September 2nd only 15.1% of the total population in New York prisons have been tested for COVID-19, which is significantly less than the general population where 29% of New Yorker residents have been tested.
1 This is completely unacceptable and puts incarcerated individuals, correctional staff, and communities outside of jails and prisons at heightened risks of COVID-19.
Kenyatta Thompson, Lead Organizer with the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice is testifying at the hearing today on behalf of #LessIsMoreNY Campaign. In her testimony, she will call on the Legislature to take immediate action to save lives and improve safety and health by passing a slate of pending justice reform bills, including the #LessIsMoreNY Act (S.1343C/A.5493B). Today there are more than 5,000 people incarcerated in New York for technical violations of parole, like being late for curfew or testing positive for alcohol -- more than every other state in the country except Illinois.
2 And new data by the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that New York sends more people who are on parole back to prison for drug treatment than all other states combined.
The #LessIsMoreNY Act will fix this problem, significantly reducing the state prison population, ensuring more effective reentry for people coming home on parole, and preventing DOCCS from using incarceration as their primary tool for alleged non-criminal technical violations of parole. This bill makes sense on a regular day, and in the midst of a pandemic, it’s ever more urgent. We urge the State Senate to take immediate action to save lives.
1. Coronavirus in the US: Latest Map and Case Count: The New York Times (accessed Sept 21. 2020), available at: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html and Robert Harding, NY prisons lag behind other states in COVID-19 testing, advocates say: Auburn Pub (Jul. 2020), available at: https://auburnpub.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/ny-prisons-lag-behind-other-states-in-covid-19-testing-advocates-say/article_20dc38d6-ae8c-5605-aa6c-20e5f4594bbf.html
2. United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Probation and Parole in the United States, 2017-2018 (Aug. 2020), available at https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ppus1718.pdf?utm_content=ppus1718&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery
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