NEW Polling Finds Overwhelming Bipartisan Support for Pretrial Reform Efforts in New York

Posted by Press on 03/08/2018

NEW YORK, NY – New polling released today finds that voters across the political spectrum support bold reforms to the state’s pretrial justice system. Voters overwhelmingly support pretrial reforms that keep people at home while they wait for their trials, shorten case processing times, and prevent defendants from taking plea deals before evidence is shared with them.

“This poll makes clear that voters are far ahead of Albany in their vision for what a pretrial system should look like,” said Zoë Towns, Senior Director for Criminal Justice Reform at The call for bold pretrial reform is not partisan or coming from a single area of the state. As they head into budget negotiations, policymakers should feel strong support from their constituents to deliver impactful reforms that will successfully and safely drive down jail populations.”

Support for pretrial reform is strong across all regions of the state, with more than two-thirds of both upstate and downstate voters supporting bold bail, speedy trial, and discovery proposals.Large majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans support the proposals and crime victims and survivors show even stronger support for reform than the general public.

A memo on the survey results is available here.

Key survey findings include:

  • Voters widely support ending pretrial jail for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies. Just over seven in ten voters (71% support/24% oppose) support this proposal to limit pre-trial detention, including nearly half (47%) who support it strongly. Further, Democrats (74%), independents (72%), and Republicans (64%) all widely support ending pretrial jail for these types of crimes.
  • New Yorkers support a proposal to replace jail before trial unless defendants are proven flight risks and have been accused of a felony involving physical force against an individual or property damage of over $1 million dollars. This proposal has nearly three-quarters support (73% support/23% oppose), with one-half of voters (50%) strongly supporting it. Again, support spans partisan lines with 79% of Democrats, 76% of independents, and 61% of Republicans all in favor.
  • There is broad support for setting in place a firm speedy trial requirement. Voters overwhelmingly support (90% support/8% oppose) setting a firm speedy trial requirement to reduce delays in court proceedings and prevent people from being held in jail for months or years awaiting trial. Large majorities of Democrats (90%), independents (90%), and Republicans (89%) support this speedy trial proposal. A majority (59%) of voters think that a trial must start within 8 weeks to be considered “speedy.”
  • Voters overwhelmingly want to reform the discovery process by ensuring that those individuals accused of a crime can see the evidence against them before deciding whether to plead guilty. More than three quarters of voters (78%) support a proposal that would keep individuals from pleading guilty without knowledge of the strength of the case against them. The proposal is supported across party lines by Democrats (79%), independents (80%), and Republicans (74%).
  • Support for pre-trial reform increases when voters hear a back-and-forth debate. When voters are exposed to balanced messaging both for and against ending jail before trial for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies, support for the proposal increases by nine points (from 71% support/24% oppose to 80%/14%) and strong support increases by six points (from 47% to 53%).
  • Voters who have been victims of crimes themselves show even stronger support for criminal justice reform proposals than the general public. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of voters who have been victims of a crime support ending pre-trial detention for those accused of misdemeanors and non-violent felonies, slightly higher than voters overall (71%) or those who have not been victims of crime (70%). A similar number of crime victims (75%) support ending pre-trial detention unless those accused are proven to be a flight risk and have been accused of a felony involving physical force or major property damage, again higher than voters overall (73%) or those who haven’t been victims of crimes (73%).
  • Crime victims show near universal support (96% support, 88% strong support) for creating a firm speedy trial requirement, as this population again is even more supportive of reform than voters overall (90% support, 78% strongly) or those who haven’t been victims of crime (88% support, 74% strongly). Voters who have been victims of crime are also more likely to support discovery reform to allow people accused of crimes to see the evidence against them before deciding whether to plead guilty (84% support, 63% strong support) than voters overall (78% support, 53% strong support) or those who have not been victims of crime (75% support, 49% strong support).

About this poll:
Global Strategy Group conducted a state-wide survey of 802 likely 2018 voters in New York between February 8-12, 2018. The results of this survey have a margin of error of +/-3.5%. Care has been taken to ensure the geographic and demographic divisions of the expected electorate are properly represented based on historical turnout. Joins Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform To Push Critical 2018 Reforms, Launch Long-term Reform Campaign

Posted by Press on 03/08/2018

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – is excited to join the bipartisan Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform (OCJR), as part of our ongoing efforts to fix our country’s broken criminal justice system. We are thrilled to stand with this broad and diverse group of Oklahoma leaders in advancing reforms that help to safely lower incarceration rates and create safer conditions for correctional facilities in the state of Oklahoma. This week, collaborated with the coalition on a new data analysis demonstrating that the need to reform Oklahoma’s criminal justice system is more urgent than ever.

Oklahoma incarcerates people 80% longer than the national average and admits 91% more women per capita than the national average, which is higher than any other state for nearly 30 years. The current system is dangerously overburdened and operating at 113% of capacity, creating unsafe conditions for both staff and inmates.

As a part of its announcement, OCJR purchased an ad which has been featured in The Oklahoman and Tulsa World newspapers. The letter was signed by the board members of OCJR to announce the launch of the coalition’s statewide criminal justice reform initiative. We look forward to continuing to work with OCJR and other partners across the State of Oklahoma to support efforts to reform the state’s criminal justice system over the long term.

Below, please see the full press release from OCJR about today’s coalition event.

March 7, 2018

As state approaches highest total incarceration in U.S., Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform ramps up advocacy efforts

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – With Oklahoma potentially mere days away from becoming the highest incarcerating state in the country, Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform (OCJR) today announced new plans for aggressive advocacy for long-term improvements to the state’s broken criminal justice system. OCJR’s long-term plan for reform in Oklahoma starts with legislative approval this session of the Oklahoma Justice Reform Task Force recommendations.

The coalition – comprised of a broad range of conservative organizations and individuals across the state, including law enforcement officers, elected officials, and business and community leaders – packed a standing-room-only State Capitol event on Wednesday to announce its support for the full Task Force plan and its intention to work with stakeholders on a long-term strategy to implement criminal justice reform in Oklahoma. OCJR’s board of directors also today released a letter, which appeared in advertising in The Oklahoman and Tulsa World, calling attention to the growing problem and urging swift action.

“We are not going away because this issue is not going away,” said Kris Steele, chairman of OCJR and a former Republican speaker of the Oklahoma House. “Being on track to be worst in the nation in incarceration is the ultimate motivator to get all hands on deck to solve this crisis. Our coalition is all-in this session, and for important efforts to come, because Oklahoma families deserve and demand better than we’re getting from our justice system today.”

On Wednesday, multiple members of the coalition reiterated their dedication to evidence-based criminal justice reform policies that save taxpayer dollars, safely reduce incarceration, reinvest savings in alternatives and treatment, and preserve and strengthen families.

“It’s time for Oklahoma to reign in skyrocketing prison growth to ensure tax dollars are better spent while improving our workforce and public safety. Other states have done it, and so can we,” added Larry Nichols, chairman emeritus of Devon Energy Corp.

More than 30 states have passed plans similar to Oklahoma’s that reinvest and redirect resources currently spent on lengthy prison terms in programming to address the root causes of criminal behavior to reduce crime and better reintegrate formerly incarcerated individuals into their communities, while protecting taxpayer dollars.

In 2016, the Task Force made 27 recommendations to address Oklahoma’s mass incarceration challenges. This session, legislation is again being considered to enact its plan, which will save nearly $2 billion by averting the 25 percent prison population growth projected in the next decade. OCJR will advocate strongly to pass the full critical components of the plan.

“These bills stop the bleeding by stopping prison growth, but they don’t save the patient. It’s imperative that the bills have their full impacts included if we want to avoid building more prisons,” Steele said. “We know there is strong legislative will to rise to the occasion even in the face of opposition from those who seek to maintain the indefensible status quo.”

With state prisons at 113 percent capacity, Oklahoma is poised to surpass Louisiana to become the highest incarcerating state in the nation in total incarceration. New analysis by reveals that in FY2017, Oklahoma sent 91 percent more women to prison per capita than the national average and held people in prison 80 percent longer for drug and property crimes.

The Task Force’s policies would free up resources for prison alternatives and treatment such as the highly-successful Tulsa-based Women in Recovery program, which keeps women out of prison while holding them accountable as they learn how to transition back into society.

“It was life-changing,” Women in Recovery graduate Kandice Nowak said at Wednesday’s event. “Women in Recovery helped me work through my past trauma and make healthy decisions. The program taught me how to live life as a healthy, productive individual again.” Nowak now works as a peer support specialist at Family and Children’s Services in Tulsa, is married with a son, and recently became a homeowner. “I hope more people can have the same hand up I received through similar diversion programs,” she said.

Statement From Four DACA Recipients at on Congressional Failure to Pass a Legislative Solution to Permanently Protect Dreamers by the March 5th Deadline

Posted by Press on 03/07/2018

WASHINGTON, DC – In September, President Trump gave Congress six months to pass a legislative solution to permanently shield Dreamers from deportation. Today, March 5th, is that deadline. The following statement is from four DACA recipients who work at Leezia Dhalla, Pamela Chomba, Maria Praeli and LaLo Montoya. Without a legislative solution, all could be forced out of their jobs and face deportation to countries they barely remember:

“For months, the President and Members of Congress have made promises to us and our families, friends and colleagues, that they would pass legislation to permanently shield us from deportation. We marked our calendars six months ago with the March 5th deadline set by President Trump, and have counted down the days with anticipation and fear.

“We refused to stand idly by as Congress debated our fate, instead making visit after visit to Capitol Hill, recounting our families’ harrowing experiences at press conferences, penning our stories in op-eds and making countless calls to lawmakers, begging for a solution to protect us. To keep us in the country we love and have called home for nearly our entire lives.

“Time and time again, politicians have promised they would fix this situation, and get a DACA solution done before March. Yet, day after day, nothing changes. Our futures are hazy and in limbo. We cannot see into the future past our DACA expiration dates. It is a terrifying reality.

“Today the countdown stops, and the words of support and encouragement from our elected officials fall flat against their inaction. Our lives are at the whim of Congress, and their failure to uphold both President Trump’s deadline and their promise for a legislative solution are incredibly heartbreaking — not just for us, but for the nearly 800,000 Dreamers who live in limbo.

“We look forward to a day when our expiration dates no longer haunt us, and we can finally live at peace in the country we call home. Only Congress can make this our reality. The alternative is unbearable.”


An op-ed by Leezia Dhalla that ran in The Washington Post today is also below.


The Washington Post // Leezia Dhalla // I’m a ‘dreamer.’ I might only have weeks left in the country I love.

I’m a ‘dreamer.’ I might only have weeks left in the country I love.

By Leezia Dhalla

In less than two months, my legal protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will expire. My employer will have to let me go; I won’t have a way to pay my rent; my family and friends will be inconsolable, knowing that I can be deported at any time. They’re the ones whose lives will be disrupted, alongside mine, if I’m deported to a country I barely remember. After 22 years of living the United States, my future — and the futures of about 800,000 young Americans like me — is in total limbo.

Two months. A few weeks. Without congressional action to protect “dreamers” like me, that’s all the time I can be sure I’ll have left in the country I have called home for nearly all my life. I’m scared about a future without the family, friends and memories I have built over decades of love for and loyalty to a country whose government seems not to want to love me back.

It didn’t have to be this way.

In September, President Trump’s administration announced an end to the Obama administration’s DACA program and gave Congress six months to act and pass a legislative solution that would permanently shield dreamers from deportation. Today we reached that deadline, and in what has become a familiar, gut-wrenching reality for dreamers, Trump and Congress have failed to rise to the occasion.

When he ended DACA, Trump vowed to “resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion.” When the congressional fight over DACA heated up this year, the president said he wanted Congress to sign a “bill of love” that would fix our status for good. He’s done neither, and so far, leaders in Congress have been all talk and no action.

They’ve done nothing, even though in January, a CBS News poll found that 87 percent of Americans stand with us, and want dreamers to be able to stay. To say that we dreamers are disappointed in our elected representatives would be an understatement. We’re gutted. We need them to stand with us, too. I’m only one of millions of immigrants who believe in this country, but I want the president, and members of Congress to understand exactly why.

I grew up an American. I went to school in San Antonio. I was a Girl Scout. I volunteered in my community, helping to feed the homeless and raising money to help fund the bone marrow transplant of a boy I’d never met. I worked the cash register at my local grocery store and spent years fine-tuning my square-dancing skills, a testament to my Texas roots. This is my home, and even though I’m devastated at the prospect of being evicted from the only country I know, I realize that I’m fortunate. There are tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of dreamers who weren’t eligible for DACA under the Obama administration’s rules because they were either too young or too old to apply. They, too, are left behind by this court decision: Young people like Rosa Maria Hernandez, a 10-year-old with cerebral palsy who came to the U.S. as a baby and was too young to apply. Customs and Border Patrol agents stopped her ambulance at an immigration checkpoint while it was carrying her to emergency surgery. Dreamers like Jorge Garcia of Lincoln Park, Mich., married to a U.S. citizen and the father of two U.S. citizen children, who came here as a 10-year-old. He was deported in January — three decades later.

Last week, the Supreme Court provided a glimmer of hope by declining to immediately rule on a lower federal court’s ruling, in January, that halted the Trump administration’s decision to wind down DACA on the basis that the decision was legally “flawed.” It’s just a temporary reprieve. The court’s decision means that current DACA beneficiaries will be able to apply to renew our work authorizations and will be, for the moment, protected from immediate deportation. But we know this ruling could be overturned, or that the administration could try to terminate DACA by executive order as a way around the courts. Remember the Trump administration’s travel ban? Several versions were blocked by courts. A later version wasn’t.

What has been most misunderstood about this ruling is that for tens of thousands of DACA recipients whose protections expire in the next few months, many of us could still lose our work permits, driver’s licenses, livelihoods and, most important, affirmative deportation protections. That’s because the confusion created by the administration’s DACA termination meant that many people like me were administratively unable to apply early enough for renewal of our status to ensure that there wouldn’t be a gap in protection when our existing protection expired — it typically takes four to five months for government review of a renewal application. The Supreme Court ruling came too late for individuals whose status expires in the next several months, including me.

The courts can’t protect us forever. Only the president and Congress can. We need them to stand with us, and with the Americans who support common-sense legislation that lets us live, work and contribute to the only country most of us can remember, or have ever known. The United States has given us so much. If I’m deported, I’ll be sad for myself. But I’ll also be sad for my country, knowing that at just the point in my life when I’m finally able to give back for everything I’ve been given, I may not get the chance.

Informed Immigrant Launches Immigration Resource Hub for Educators, DACA Recipients

Posted by Press on 03/06/2018

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Informed Immigrant ( launched a redesigned site featuring important information for immigrants and service providers to educate their communities. Developed in partnership with organizations including, NILC, Grantmakers Concerned With Immigrants and Refugees, Californians Together, America’s Voice, and, the site features a new Educator’s Corner, DACA and mental health guides, know your rights material and more. At a time of great uncertainty for immigrants in America, Informed Immigrant is an accessible, one-stop-shop resource hub that empowers Americans, regardless of their citizenship status, to know their rights, protect their loved ones and prepare their families in case of separation.

New to Informed Immigrant this year is curated content guides and best-of resources, “share” functionality across Facebook, Twitter, email, and Whatsapp, and an up-to-date resource library featuring more than 250 PDFs, videos, posters, toolkits, and online resources which have been downloaded more than 10,500 times. All FAQs have been vetted by licensed immigration attorneys.

Informed Immigrant — through the continued work of organizations and community leaders across the United States — provides new and returning users with the knowledge, tools, and resources they need to feel prepared in the current environment. In the wake of congressional inaction to defend Dreamers in particular, it is more important than ever to provide these critical information resources to immigrant communities and their allies.

“We are proud to be a part of the coalition to build this resource. It is inspiring to see so many people coming together to assist our communities. We hope that Informed Immigrant can provide immigrant families and service providers with critical and empowering information needed in this moment.” —Katie Aragón, Grassroots Communications Manager,

“Federal law states that all children, regardless of their citizenship or residency status, are entitled to a K-12 education. It is critical and fundamental that we ensure our educators have the right tools and information to support and inform immigrant students and their families. Educators, after family members, are the most important individuals in a child’s life.” —Gaby Pacheco, Director of Development, Advocacy, and Communications,

“These are incredibly uncertain times for vulnerable immigrant communities in the United States. Given the drumbeat of attacks and harmful policies targeting immigrants, it is critical we fight alongside our vibrant immigrant communities and provide clear and timely resources that will help them stay informed and protect themselves and their families.” —Avideh Moussavian, Senior Policy Attorney, National Immigration Law Center

“Information is one of the most powerful tools in the era of Donald Trump. The immigration landscape is changing quickly, which means that staying up to date on the most recent developments can be difficult. That is why sites like Informed Immigrant are so important, so that communities across the country, immigrants and their allies, can obtain rapid response information to some of their biggest questions.” —Juan Escalante, Communications Manager, America’s Voice Education Fund

“It has been a great experience to partner with Informed Immigrant to develop an educator-focused vertical for the website. Many schools understand the critical role they play in building connections between immigrant families and our communities. We hope that educators across the nation find these resources as helpful as we have to create ‘safe and welcoming schools’ for immigrant students.” —Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez, Project Director, Californians Together