New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) President T. Andrew Brown today commended the New York State Legislature for approving the Less is More Act – a crucial piece of reform legislation that, if signed into law by the governor, will end reincarceration for individuals alleged to have committed technical parole violations.
This marks a significant victory for NYSBA, as the bill is one of its top legislative priorities in the current session. NYSBA’s Task Force on the Parole System conducted a detailed review of the state’s parole process and identified the re-imprisonment of individuals for technical parole violations as one of the largest drivers of mass incarceration. The task force’s report and NYSBA’s subsequent advocacy played a crucial role in the bill’s passage.
“Today’s vote moves New York one step closer to dismantling the systemic discrimination inherent in our current criminal justice system,” said NYSBA President T. Andrew Brown. “The repeated incarceration of individuals for minor technical violations is not only bad policy, but also morally incomprehensible – especially as we are collectively focused on social justice and equity. I’d like to thank the task force and Assemblymembers Phara Souffrant Forrest and David I. Weprin, as well as State Sen. Brian A. Benjamin, for their hard work and I implore the governor to sign the bill into law without delay.”
The co-chairs of NYSBA’s Task Force on the Parole System also applauded lawmakers for continuing the criminal justice reform momentum of the last few years by passing the Less Is More Act. The legislation, as recommended in the task force’s report, also establishes a system of “earned good time credits” to incentivize good behavior while on parole, which would reduce a parolee’s time under supervision.
“It is estimated that nearly 40 percent of persons sent to state prison in New York each year are incarcerated not for a new criminal conviction, but for a technical parole violation for minor and non-criminal technical violations, such as failing to make curfew or missing an appointment with a parole officer,” said Seymour James, task force co-chair and a past NYSBA president. “This longstanding policy of reincarceration for non-criminal behavior is counterproductive and costly, both in human and financial terms, which is why the task force strongly recommended that it be promptly addressed through legislation.”
“Incarcerating people for technical parole violations plays a decidedly negative role in terms of integrating people back into the community,” said William T. Russell, Jr., task force co-chair. “Even a brief period of incarceration on a technical parole violation can result in the loss of a job and housing, potentially leaving people homeless with no viable source of income. It can also interrupt ongoing community-based treatment services and educational opportunities the person may have been pursuing in order to improve his or her chances of a successful reentry into the community.”
About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, NYSBA has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.
Contact: Susan DeSantis