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weekly update – january 17, 2019

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In this week’s update…

Join us in Congratulating Donna Hylton, Director of our Women & Girl’s Project

Criminal Justice Reform Takes Center Stage in New York

Join us in Congratulating Donna Hylton, Director of our Women & Girl’s Project

Donna came to Katal in 2018 as a partner and ally, and became our first Senior Justice Fellow, where she was involved in bail reform, drafting parole reform legislation, developing campaign strategies, and building local, statewide, and national networks for criminal justice reform. Now, we’re so thrilled to announced that, upon completing her fellowship, Donna has joined us as Director of Katal’s Women and Girl’s Project!

Donna has been deeply involved in movements for social justice throughout the country, starting back when she was imprisoned in a women’s correctional facility. During her 27 years in prison, she was actively engaged in building health and family programs behind the walls, and in working with folks on the outside to spur policy reforms in Albany. Since her release, Donna has worked in New York and around the country, always elevating the stories of women and girls, and emphasizing the importance of building communities through economic, racial and gender justice. Last year Donna released her powerful new memoir, A Little Piece of Lightwhich continues to stir conversation and awareness about the criminalization of women, the criminalization of survivors of violence and sexual assault, and of the urgent need to end mass incarceration and support women and girls.

As Director of the Women and Girl’s Project, Donna’s work will include serving in a leadership role in building reform campaigns in Connecticut and New York, including reforms related to parole (the #LessIsMoreNY Act) and probation; sentencing reform, including the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA), which Donna helped author while incarcerated in state prison; closing Rikers Island; and more. She’ll also be supporting the leadership and action of women and girls, including working to build safe spaces for women and their families to take action toward Health, Equity, and Justice.

Please join us in congratulating Donna, and be sure to check back often for updates about her work!

We’ve got a new website!

The start of a new year serves as the perfect time for new opportunities and fresh beginnings. We’re happy to announce the launch of our new website.

Our new design features: a more vivid color scheme alongside captivating black and white images gathered throughout our time organizing the last few years; a brand new staff page with a handful of amazing new team members for you all to read and learn more about; more in depth descriptions about some of the issues we are working on and organizing around; a new template for our weekly updates; and more.

Visit our new site here and be sure to stay on the lookout for upcoming events and more weekly updates!

Criminal Justice Reform Takes Center Stage in New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his State of the State address and executive budget proposal at the Hart Theatre on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019, in Albany.

Tuesday, January 15, Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a sweeping package of criminal justice reforms during his State of the State and Budget Address in Albany. His message to the New York legislature included plans for: Bail and Pretrial Detention Reform; Improving Transparency in the Discovery Package; Ensuring the Right to a Speedy Trial; Passing the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act; Legalizing Adult Use Cannabis, and a number of other proposals with potential to drastically advance criminal justice reform in the state if this legislation is passed and effectively enacted.

The New York Law Journal dove deep into Gov. Cuomo’s package of proposed criminal justice reforms and provided in depth details as to what those entail here.

While we’re finalizing our analysis of the budget proposals now, at first blush, much of the governor’s package as a whole is a positive step toward real and much needed reforms. And there are areas of different proposals that need strengthening, expansion, or even to be struck out entirely. The biggest takeaway from Tuesday is that the stage is set in New York for 2019 to be an incredible year for criminal justice reform. That’s why it’s urgently important that we double down on our organizing, hold the governor and legislature accountable, and fight to win the reforms our communities need.

You can read the governor’s full 2019 State of the State Book here, and see the entire Executive Budget Legislation here. The criminal justice reform section is under Article VII, the Public Protection and General Government (PPGG) Bill. Read Governor Cuomo’s outline of the 2019 Justice Agenda here, and watch the Budget Presentation here.

If you’d like to be kept up to date on the progress around responding to the Governor’s justice reform proposals, please email Donna Hylton, at

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