The New York State Bar Association is supporting the “Less Is More Bill,” S1144, which eliminates technical parole violations and develops a system of “good time credits” where parolees can reduce their periods of supervision. Parolees under the current system can be incarcerated simply because they missed a meeting with a parole officer or were in public past curfew.
The “Less Is More Bill” is sponsored by Sen. Brian Benjamin and Assembly Member Phara Forrest, A5576, in the Assembly. Eliminating this practice and the costs, both human and financial, of incarcerating parolees for technical violations is a centerpiece of the recommendations of the Task Force on Parole Reform, which were approved by the House of Delegates in two parts in November of 2019 and June of 2020.
The Congress, meanwhile, advanced one of NYSBA’s federal legislative priorities calling for background checks for the purchases of firearms. HR 8 would close the “gun-show loophole” in federal law by establishing new background check requirements for firearms transfers between unlicensed individuals.
There are certain exemptions such as a good faith gift between spouses. HR 1446 would close the “Charleston loophole” in federal laws by preventing gun sales from proceeding if a background check isn’t completed within three days, as allowed under current law. The bill extends the time to 20 days.
The legislation arose in response to a mass shooting in 2015 at an historic Black church where nine people were killed with a gun legally sold without a completed background check in the required three-day period. Evidence later showed that had the background check been completed, the purchase would have been blocked.
These two bills now move to the Senate, where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has vowed to bring them to the floor for a vote. Prospects for passage remain uncertain given the narrow Democratic majority in the Senate. But, President Biden is personally committed to addressing gun violence and some Republican senators are open to legislation.
NYSBA adopted the background check priority based on the recommendation of the Task Forces of Mass Shootings. The Task Force was convened in 2018 to examine the incidence and causes of mass shootings and made recommendations to address this national crisis.