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new york update – june 17, 2021

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In this issue…

#LessIsMoreNY Passes Senate and Assembly

Katal at 5 Conversation with Black Organizers

New York Statewide Criminal Justice Reform Call

#LessIsMoreNY Passes Senate and Assembly

Together we did it! The #LessIsMoreNY Act passed last Thursday. Checkout the campaign’s press release about this monumental victory!                          

As you know, New York sends more people on parole back to prison for technical violations than any other state, and sends more people on parole back to prison for “drug treatment” than all other states combined. In 2019 alone, approx. 40% of all new admissions to NY prisons were people on parole re-incarcerated after being accused of a minor, non-criminal technical violation. And the entire process is marked by systemic racism, with Black and Latinx people many times more likely to be re-incarcerated for non-criminal technical violations of parole than their white counterparts.                                                                                                                     

Less Is More will change this. By overhauling how parole in New York works — including limiting or otherwise prohibiting incarceration for most non-criminal technical violations —  Less is More will:

  • improve the lives of thousands + thousands of NYers and increase the likelihood people on parole will succeed when they come home;
  • further decarcerate prisons & jails (essential for closing Rikers);
  • enhance due process;
  • allow most people on parole to earn “good time” credits to shorten time on community supervision;
  • strengthen public safety;
  • and more. 

Less Is More is perhaps the most significant parole reform bill passed in the country to date – its impact will be enormous. With our partners at Unchained and A Little Piece of Light, and the nearly 300 community, faith, labor, and advocacy groups who were part of the campaign, we have together taken another step towards justice in New York. Now, Governor Cuomo must sign the bill into law.

Yesterday afternoon, we held our #LessIsMoreNY Campaign Update Call, that included updates on the #LessIsMoreNY Act and campaign, next steps in the fight to have the Governor sign #LessIsMoreNY, and details about how to get involved. We also spent time reflecting on the collective organizing and advocacy that made this possible. 

Now our attention turns to getting the bill signed into law.  Here are ways to help: 

  • Join us for our #LessIsMoreNY Phone Zap on Wednesday, June 23 from 11:30am – 12:30pm. Register here!
  • Take immediate online action to contact the Governor and tell him to sign #LessIsMoreNY into law. Take action here!

Let’s make this happen! 

New York Statewide Criminal Justice Reform Call

This morning, we hosted our end-of-session NY Statewide Criminal Justice Reform Call. Nearly 120 people registered for the call. We had a lively discussion with updates on what happened at the end of session and next steps on criminal justice bills still in the legislature. Our speakers included:

  • Cylas Martell-Crawford, lobbyist with an overview of the end of session.
  • Avery Bizzell, Community Service Society of NY, discussed the Clean Slate NY Campaign
  • Mark Shervington, RAPP discussed Elder Parole and Fair and Timely Parole.
  • Donna HyltonALPOL discuss the #LessIsMoreNY Campaign.
  • Darlene, McDay END QI NY, discussed their campaign to #EndQualifiedImmunity in NYS.

Allison Hollihan, Osborne Association, spoke about the #ProtectVisits campaign to Protect In-Person Visiting in state prisons and local jail

#Katal5 Dialogue with Black Organizers

In advance of our latest #Katal5 event yesterday with three amazing Black organizers, Lorenzo Jones, Co-Executive Director of Katal, wrote a short op-ed, reflecting on his own trajectory as an organizer. Yesterday’s conversion included some of the best community organizers in the country and they had deep wisdom to share with us about how we can tackle the problems we face today. Some of the highlights include:

“I come to organize fully and happily as a disaffected lawyer when I got to a deeper analysis of what I was doing, that I wanted to work for the deeper liberation of Black and brown people.” Afua Atta-Mensah, Executive Director, Community Voices Heard.

“A friend of mine said, there’s a difference between organizing in the community and understanding the language in your neighborhood. You can do organizing from a distance or really do organizing in your hood.” Dr. Charlene Sinclair, Founding director of the Center for Race, Religion, and Economic Democracy (C-RRED) and the program coordinator for the Interfaith Organizing Initiative.

“There were issues affecting people that I couldn’t address as a labor organizer, which is what brought me to community organizing. I fell in love with the craft, and the people and work that I was doing.”DeAngelo Bester, Executive Director, Workers Center for Racial Justice (WCRJ).

We hope you enjoyed this conversation! Please be on the lookout in the fall for our next dialogue in the #Katal5 Anniversary series.

Sign up for the Katal Connecticut Update

We announced in March that, after nearly 5 years, we’re ending the Katal Weekly Update, and moving to two separate email updates — one for New York, another for Connecticut. If you’d also like to keep up what we’re doing in Connecticut, please click here to sign up for the Katal Connecticut Update!

Keep practicing social distancing, wear your mask, wash your hands, and check in on your neighbors. If you want to get involved, learn more about our work, or just connect, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Katal works to strengthen the people, policies, institutions, and movements that advance health, equity, and justice for everyone. Join us: web, Twitter, Facebook! Email: Phone: 646.875.8822.

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