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Justice Road Map New York

 
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Who We Are


We are criminal justice and immigration advocates, directly impacted people, legal service providers, victims’ rights advocates, and faith leaders who stand united in the belief that this is a critical moment in our country's history, one that requires moral clarity and bold action by our state’s leaders: New York must act to ensure the basic human dignity and core constitutional and human rights of all New Yorkers.

For too long, New York’s criminal legal system has dehumanized people of color in the state, and destroyed individuals, families, and communities. The injustices of this system are amplified by the double punishment--indefinite detention, deportation, and permanent family separation--suffered by immigrants, including Green Card holders, people with asylum, and undocumented people. Both the criminal legal system and the immigration detention and deportation system systematically oppress Black and Brown people, and poor people, and through violent policy, structure, and culture - these systems perpetuate harm through racial bias and discrimination, and dehumanizing treatment. They also facilitate the further extraction of resources from already economically-distressed communities. Amidst Trump’s unrelenting attacks on immigrants and people of color, Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature have an imperative to protect our communities by immediately passing the legislation below.
 

THE ROADMAP


Reduce Unconstitutional and Unnecessary Stops and Arrests

  • Reduce Unnecessary Arrests

  • Green Light New York

  • Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act

Hold Police Accountable

  • #PoliceSTATAct

  • Repeal 50a

  • Special Prosecutor bill

End Pretrial Punishment and Ensure Due Process

  • Overhaul Bail

  • Pass Open, Early, Automatic, and Mandatory Discovery

  • True Speedy Trial

Reform Sentencing Laws

  • Raise the Age

  • Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA)

  • One Day to Protect New Yorkers

Protect Immigrants from ICE

  • New York TRUST Act

  • Protect Our Courts Act

End Solitary Confinement

  • Humane Alternatives to Long Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act

Fix an Unjust Parole System

  • Fair and Timely Parole

  • Elder Parole

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THE ISSUES


Reduce Unconstitutional and Unnecessary Stops and Arrests

Racial profiling and over-policing in communities of color result in thousands of arrests for minor offenses. A single one of these arrests can have enduring and immense consequences throughout an individual’s life, especially for immigrants, with or without legal status. New York must act to decriminalize certain offenses, end unnecessary arrests, and protect immigrants from the serious deportation risks posed by entanglement in the racially-biased criminal legal system.

To that end, New York must pass the Reduce Unnecessary Arrests Act to ban police arrests for non-criminal offenses. These arrests carry significant social and public costs to taxpayers, and can jeopardize employment opportunities, immigration status, and access to health, housing, and other programs. New York must also restore equal access to driver’s licenses to all state residents, regardless of immigration status by passing Green Light New York. Expanding access to driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants will help prevent simple traffic infractions from resulting in arrest, detention  and tragic deportations. New York must also pass the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, which ends marijuana prohibition;  seals past marijuana arrests and convictions; removes a positive marijuana test as justification for violating parole or probation, or for denying access to employment or licensing; and establishes the Community Grants Reinvestment Fund, which directs 50 percent of tax revenue from legal sales into communities harmed by the war on drugs.

Hold Police Accountable

Even with the reduction of arrests, communities must be empowered to hold New York law enforcement officers accountable, especially given the decades of discriminatory and abusive policing they have been subject to. That’s why New York needs the #PoliceSTATAct which requires the collection and public reporting of killings by police and deaths in custody, as well as policing of minor offenses and outcomes; the Repeal of NYS CRL Section 50a which seeks to end the police secrecy law preventing public access to police disciplinary information; and the Special Prosecutor bill which would permanently establish the Attorney General’s office as the special prosecutor for instances where civilians are killed by police or die in police custody.

End Pretrial Punishment and Ensure Due Process

Tens of thousands of legally innocent New Yorkers sit in jail because they cannot afford bail. Many languish in jail for months or even years awaiting trial. At the same time, defendants do not have access to critical evidence in their case until just before trial. New York’s unjust bail, discovery, and speedy trial laws violate the presumption of innocence, wreak havoc on impacted people and their families, and coerce plea deals, some of which then lead to mandatory detention and deportation. To address this New York must: Overhaul Bail to vastly reduce the number of New Yorkers incarcerated pretrial, eliminate wealth and race-based detention, and strengthen due process protections; pass Open, Early, Automatic, and Mandatory Discovery to ensure that New Yorkers have early access to all evidence in their case in order to adequately prepare for trial and push back on wrongful plea offers; and pass a Speedy Trial Law that would dictate specific time frames within which a defendant must be brought to trial.

Reform Sentencing Laws

We support policies that will help end a system of harsh, racist sentencing structures and minimize disproportionate immigration consequences. New York must Raise the Age of Youthful Offender eligibility up to the 22nd birthday, make Family Court the default venue in all cases where the accused is under 18 years old, and ensure that if 16 and 17 year olds are incarcerated, they are held in juvenile facilities without adult corrections involvement. This also protects New York’s immigrant youth from the harsh consequences of being tried as an adult. To begin to reverse the criminalization and harsh punishment of survivors of domestic violence, New York must pass the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA), to allow judges to have discretion to sentence Domestic Violence survivors convicted of offenses caused by that violence to shorter sentences or to alternative-to-incarceration programs instead of prison. New York’s sentencing scheme must also help to protect New Yorkers against the disproportionate immigration consequences that can result from certain criminal legal involvement. One Day to Protect New Yorkers reduces the maximum potential sentence on class A misdemeanor offenses from 365 to 364 days, which would reduce a host of disproportionate and unintended immigration consequences, including detention and deportation, that tear New York families apart.

Protect Immigrants From ICE

Essential reforms are needed to ensure that immigrant New Yorkers have meaningful access to due process in New York courts. Thus, New York needs a New York TRUST Act that will restrict municipal or state law enforcement agencies from submitting to federal immigration detainer requests not signed by a judge and from sharing personal or confidential information with ICE or Customs and Border Enforcement (CBP) except as required by federal law.  We also must pass the Protect Our Courts Act, which would prohibit the warrantless ICE arrests of immigrants seeking access to justice in New York State courthouses and ensure that immigrant New Yorkers can access their due process rights without fear and intimidation by ICE.

End Solitary Confinement

Isolated confinement is imposed in state prison, county jails, and immigration detention facilities alike. Although the United Nations has said that solitary confinement beyond 14 days amounts to torture, people spend months, years, and even decades in solitary in New York. Solitary confinement in pre-trial detention pressures people to accept harsh plea deals, which often trigger an arrest by ICE, detention, and deportation.  New York must pass the Humane Alternatives to Long Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act, which requires any person separated from the general population for more than 15 days to be in a secure rehabilitative and therapeutic unit with significant out-of-cell programming and recreation time, and limits isolated confinement to 15 days.

Fix an Unjust Parole System

The New York State Parole Board annually denies thousands of incarcerated New Yorkers their freedom, punishing them, their families and communities for years and decades beyond their minimum sentence. New York’s Parole Board can deny parole based on the nature of the offense alone, no matter how much time has passed, and despite someone’s accomplishments in prison and minimal public safety risk. New York must mandate that the Parole Board grant Fair and Timely Parole to all parole-eligible people in prison unless they pose a clear, current and unreasonable risk to public safety. In addition, New York confines thousands of older people  in cruel and degrading prison conditions. Elder Parole allows an individual in New York State prison aged 55 and up who has served 15 consecutive years in prison to be considered for parole, regardless of their crime or sentence.  

Supporters