NEW YORK — Earlier this week, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul would not say what she planned to do about parolee re-imprisonment for nonviolent technical violations, and general overcrowding in the jail system, including at facilities like Rikers Island.
Fast forward to Friday afternoon, and Hochul – surrounded by supporters and criminal justice advocates – signed into law the “Less is More Act”.
The new law will immediately trigger the release of 191 Rikers inmates who are currently being held on nonviolent parole violations.
“Today, we’re taking on an aspect of the criminal justice system that’s too often overlooked — the antiquated system of the parole system,” said Gov. Hochul.
Addressing overcrowding and other health related conditions at Rikers is just one aspect of the new law, which moving forward, will also incentivize good parolee behavior for not violating the terms of their supervision.
However, New York State Senate Republican leader Rob Ortt sees it differently, and attempted to establish a connection between increased crime, the hot button issue of bail reform and the new law designed to stop punishing parolees for technical violations.
“Under one-party rule, violent crime has been on the rise across the state. It began with the democrats’ so-called “bail reform” in 2019, and it will undoubtedly become worse with the new law signed today,” Sen. Ortt said in a statement.
Donna Hylton is a criminal justice advocate who was also imprisoned for 27 years.
She stood proudly with the governor Friday during the signing.
“This is a watershed moment for all of us. Would you want to be sent to prison because you missed a meeting, or you missed an appointment? Would you want someone to treat you so cruelly and so inhumanely because you just did something that was not criminal in behavior and intent? That’s wrong. You’re telling me the person that jaywalked, and because they happen to be on parole, that’s OK to send them back to prison? For what, so we can spend more of your money that you have to put into this system?” said Hylton.
This new law takes effect in March of next year.