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Bill to Expand the State Commission of Correction (A5709A) Advances through the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Contact: Yonah Zeitz, yonah@katalcenter.org • 347-201-2769

Follow on Twitter/X @KatalCenter • #ShutRikers #CutShutInvestNY

Bill to Expand the State Commission of Correction (A5709A) Advances through the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee on Final Day of Session 

Albany, NY:  Today, the New York State Assembly Ways and Means Committee voted to advance A5709A (Gallagher), which expands the number of members on the State Commission of Correction from three to nine and codifies the manner of confirmation of such members to diversify the commission. This is an important step to enhance and strengthen the Commission’s capacity to fulfill its constitutional mandate: to ensure that state prisons and local jails are “safe, stable, and humane.”

Community groups and directed impacted community members have demanded that Albany do more to address the various crises unfolding in city jails across the state, from Buffalo and the Southern Tier to New York City’s deadly Rikers Island Jail Complex. Now, the Assembly is poised to pass the bill.

Quotes from elected officials and community groups: 

Assemblymember Emily Gallagher, Prime Bill Sponsor, said: “Prisons and jails by their nature tread on the most sacred constitutional rights to liberty and due process. Oversight over these facilities is so essential that the State Commission of Correction was written into our state’s constitution in 1894. Strengthening this commission by restoring its size to 9 members, as it was in 1894, and requiring that members have necessary expertise in relevant fields, such as public health and prisoner’s rights, is a vital step towards ensuring that disasters like the one unfolding at Rikers Island do not repeat themselves. I applaud and thank the Ways and Means Committee and our legislative leadership for advancing this important bill to the floor.”

Statement from Yonah Zeitz, Advocacy Director of the Katal Center for Equity, Health, and Justice:  “We are glad to see A5709A pass out of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee and move onto the floor on the final day of the legislative session. This is a necessary step to expand and strengthen the State Commission of Correction (SCOC), and we thank legislative leaders in the Assembly for advancing this critical legislation. Right now, the conditions in many jails across the state, including Rikers Island, are dire and life-threatening for incarcerated people and staff. The SCOC has a constitutional mandate to address these extraordinary problems, and life-threatening conditions in jails and prisons. This bill is a necessary step to revamp the Commission. We urge the Assembly and Senate to swiftly pass this proposal and send it to the governor for her signature.” 

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