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weekly update – may 8, 2019

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weekly update – may 8, 2019

In this issue…

Albany: Lobby Day and Rallying for #LessIsMoreNY

Hartford: Monthly Member Meeting

#RockReform10: Keith Brown on the 10-Year Anniversary of the Rockefeller Drug Laws Reform

In Albany: Lobby Day and Rallying for #LessIsMoreNY

Katal and Unchained members and staff at Wednesday’s #LessIsMoreNY rally at the Capitol, calling on lawmakers to pass Less Is More.

Wednesday, May 8th, our team and directly impacted leaders, alongside advocates impacted by parole, Unchained  and former community corrections officials convened at the Capitol for a lobby day and rally for the Less is More: Community Supervision Revocation Reform Act (S.1343B – Benjamin / A.5493A – Mosley). These actions follow a scandalous report released last week by the Gothamist, which details several allegations of Administrative Law Judges being pressured to put people on parole behind bars for minor technical violations. Additionally, in an announcement made Tuesday, the de Blasio administration has promised to further reduce the detention capacity of the proposed borough-based facilities from 5,000 to 4,000 – in which the City can and must reduce even lower.

The coalition called upon the New York State Legislature to urgently pass, and for the Governor to sign the Less Is More act which would reduce jail and prison populations; support people who are subject to community supervision in the reentry process; promote safety and justice for families and communities; and save taxpayers money. Lawmakers took meetings throughout the day and are expected to pass parole reforms this session.

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, said: “As an elected sheriff, I know we need to take a common sense approach to this issue. In Albany County, we have recognized the positive impact that incentives and diversionary services can have on changing lives. The current parole practices in New York can be greatly improved to strengthen public safety and help people get back on their feet when they return to the community. The Less Is More Act makes changes we need in New York. I am in support of the Less Is More Act to help reform the New York State Parole System, and believe this bill should be passed, signed and made into law.”

Read our full release here.

In Hartford: Monthly Member Meeting

Tuesday, May 7th, we held our Monthly Member Meeting in Hartford. The group discussed the issues that we have been working on, starting with an update from member Cherell Banks on her newly published op-ED, “My Not So Golden Ticket: My Experience Navigating the Criminal Justice System with My Son.” The article, which appeared in the Northend Agent’s, chronicles Cherell’s experience with her son navigating the criminal justice system. After reading her article, the group outlined dates to go to the legislature to talk about the issues highlighted in Cherell’s article including: the need to have mental health resources for community members in halfway houses, the need to provide more services to incarcerated people and the need to shift the culture of incarceration in Connecticut.

Cherell Banks proudly holds up her op-ed featured in the Northend Agent’s at Tuesday’s Member Meeting.

We also discussed other initiatives we have been working on, specifically highlighting issues that intersect criminal justice reform and other issue areas. A conversation ensued about housing in the Greater Hartford area, citing previous outreach where members canvassed Asylum Hill. During the canvassing, members noted the lack of homes owned by Connecticut residents, and the number of dilapidated buildings in the areas. Next steps for our work on housing were outlined. The last issue update was given by Apprentice Organizer Dajuan Wiggins on the need for education reform throughout the state.

Before the meeting closed, legislative updates were discussed. Members expressed their desire to lobby for HB 6921, An Act Concerning Discrimination Based On A Person’s Criminal History. Katal has been following this issue since our member, Odette White Eagle, testified on it in February. Now that it has passed out of the Labor and Public Employees Committee, members described their next steps to lobby in support of the bill in the coming weeks.

To get involved in education reform, contact Dajuan Wiggins at 203.295.4888, or at

Join us at our next Monthly Meeting, June 5th from 6:00 – 7:30 pm at our Hartford office! For more information and to RSVP, contact Kenyatta Thompson at or 860.937.6094.

#RockReform10: Keith Brown on the 10-Year Anniversary of the Rockefeller Drug Laws Reform

Our new contribution for the #RockReform10 project comes from our Director of Health and Harm Reduction, Keith BrownIn his opinion piece for Filter Magazine, he discusses three widely distributed stories from the past couple of months and the way in which they illustrate the profound ways in which the media perpetuates harmful myths and acts as a propaganda arm of the ongoing, failed War on Drugs.

Check out his #RockReform10 piece here.

You can follow this project by tracking the #RockReform10 hashtag on social media. If you’d like to contribute your own reflections for the project, have questions or just want to connect about it, please contact us at We may not be able to publish every contribution, but we will do our best.

By marking and reflecting on a movement victory like this, we hope to uncover and share stories, insights, and tools that will strengthen our collective organizing, so that we can more swiftly and effectively bring an end to mass incarceration and the war on drugs. We hope you’ll join us!

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