FWD.us Statement on Request for Stay of Deportation for Alejandra Juarez

Posted by FWD.us Press on 06/07/2018

WASHINGTON, DC – FWD.us President Todd Schulte issued the following statement today on the request of a stay of the deportation of Alejandra Juarez. More information on Alejandra, and the community of support behind her, can be found here:

“For the last 20 years, Alejandra Juarez has made America her home. Like so many military spouses, Alejandra supported her husband when he was deployed to Iraq with the Florida National Guard, while raising two incredible U.S. citizen daughters and building a community in her local church. This week, ICE will decide if Alejandra is deported to Mexico in just 14 days, leaving behind her children, her husband, and her community.

“Congress has failed people like Alejandra. For decades, lawmakers in Washington have been unable or unwilling to pass legislation to fix our broken immigration system. As a result, millions of people living and working as our neighbors, raising their children in our communities, and filling the congregations of our churches have no opportunity to get in line and earn a chance at citizenship. It must be fixed.

“Alejandra has tried everything possible to earn legal status, but her fate now rests with ICE. They can decide that it is in the best interest of her children and her community to approve her stay of deportation — or they can choose to ignore the calls from faith and community leaders, from politicians from both sides of the aisle, and from Alejandra’s family, friends and neighbors, and deport a mother just trying to raise her family. Congress has given ICE the authority to grant Alejandra’s request, and to allow her to stay; to do what is right after so many other politicians have failed her. We implore ICE to do so and will continue to urge Congress to finally pass legislation so people like Alejandra are treated as the Americans they truly are.”

NEW: Closing Rikers Island Depends on Bold Bail Reform in Albany

Posted by FWD.us Press on 06/07/2018

NEW YORK – Today, FWD.us and the Vera Institute of Justice released a new policy impact analysis that makes clear that New York state lawmakers must pass real bail reform if the goal of closing Rikers Island is to become a reality.

In 2017, the Lippman Commission reported that in order to close Rikers Island, its population would need to be cut nearly in half — from the current average daily jail population of 9,000 to 5,000. The new analysis released today shows clearly that ambitious bail reforms currently being debated in Albany would reduce the population of Rikers enough to close it once and for all.

This analysis comes at a critical moment as lawmakers debate several bail reform proposals currently pending in Albany, which would eliminate bail and jail for misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, and strictly limit detention in other cases.

The answer is straightforward: enacting legislative change to eliminate bail and jail on misdemeanor and nonviolent felony charges—and placing strict limits on detention for other types of cases—will make closing Rikers Island a reality.

Former New York State Chief Judge and Chairman of the Independent Commission Jonathan Lippman said, “Closing Rikers and improving our criminal justice system is a moral imperative that requires courage and persistence from our elected leaders. This is especially the case when it comes to bail reform legislation in Albany, which is the fastest way to end the practice of jailing people simply because they are poor. The insights from Vera’s report show that bail reform would not only create a fairer criminal justice system, but also accelerate the timeline for closing the dysfunctional Rikers jail complex. The time is now for Albany to do away with cash bail and cut down on unnecessary pretrial incarceration.”

“It is fundamentally unjust that a person’s liberty is too often dependent upon the amount of money in their wallet,” said Nick Turner, President and Director of the Vera Institute of Justice. “Over 75% of New Yorkers in jail are there because they cannot afford bail. Recent history has taught us that we do not need to use incarceration to achieve public safety. Over the past decade, New York City has become the safest big city in America, with fewer people in jail and the lowest crime rate in decades. Fixing our broken bail system will move us that much closer to using incarceration as truly a last resort, and not the default for those New Yorkers unable to afford their freedom.”

President of FWD.us Todd Schulte said, “This new analysis makes crystal clear that you can’t close Rikers without bold bail reform in Albany. State leaders can make badly-needed reform a reality this legislative session, and take a huge step forward in closing Rikers and safely driving down jail populations across the state.”

View the policy impact report here. To learn more about ongoing efforts to reform New York’s criminal justice system, visit https://nycjr.fwd.us.

ICYMI: Players Coalition members call on New York lawmakers to pass comprehensive bail reform now

Posted by FWD.us Press on 06/07/2018

Wanted to make sure you saw that members of the Players Coalition sent a letter to Governor Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Heastie, and Majority Leader Flanagan calling on New York State lawmakers to pass comprehensive bail reform now.

In the letter released today, members of the Players Coalition Kelvin Beachum (New York Jets), Josh McCown (New York Jets), and Demario Davis (New Orleans Saints) as well as Chris Johnson, owner of the New York Jets, outline the need for real action on pretrial reform in the eight remaining days of the 2018 legislative session.

Seven in ten New York voters support ending the jailing of people charged with misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies while they await trial, according to a recent poll. We are proud to work with partners like the Players Coalition who continue to advocate for urgent action to reform New York’s broken pretrial system.

 

June 7, 2018

The Honorable Andrew Cuomo
Governor of the State of New York

The Honorable Carl Heastie
Speaker of the New York State Assembly

The Honorable John Flanagan
Majority Leader of the New York State Senate

Re: ​The Need to Pass Comprehensive Bail Reform Now

Dear Governor Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Heastie, and Majority Leader Flanagan:

We stand in solidarity with those demanding comprehensive bail reform in New York, and we write to urge you to make bail reform a top legislative priority in the few remaining days of the 2018 legislative session.​ Our bail system has been failing low-income communities and communities of color for generations. We are at a moment of crisis, but also one of great opportunity: together, we can create a pretrial justice system that reflects the best values of New York for all New Yorkers.

Last December, as part of our Listen & Learn Tour, we had the opportunity to visit the criminal courts in the South Bronx. We spoke to lawyers, judges, community members, activists, and—most importantly—people who have been affected by the system. We were moved by the stories of young people charged with misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies spending months on Rikers Island, separated from their families, because they could not afford the price of their freedom. Their experiences mirror those of the approximately 16,000 people who sit in pretrial detention across the state every day because they cannot pay their bail.

Our visit to the Bronx reinforced our resolve to lend our voices to the chorus of those demanding meaningful change. In March, Damario Davis represented the Players Coalition in Albany, calling for comprehensive pretrial justice reform. We also penned an op-ed and used our platform on social media to amplify the voices of the stories of impacted people. All of our efforts are motivated by our belief that New York’s broken bail system presents a dire emergency for the state, one that requires immediate action and a sense of urgency.

That is why we were so disappointed that the state budget negotiations failed to produce meaningful bail reform. We now urge the Governor, the Assembly, and the Senate to pass comprehensive bail reform before the end of the legislative session. Specifically, we call on lawmakers to pass bail reform that:

  • Eliminates money bail and pretrial detention for the vast majority of misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies;
  • Strictly limits the use of preventive detention—that is, detention without bail or the possibility of release;
  • Ensures that prosecutors do not have the unchecked power to detain people;
  • Guarantees individualized justice and robust due process, and imposes only the least restrictive conditions on liberty necessary to ensure a person’s return to court; and
  • Rejects calls to require judges to consider a person’s future “dangerousness,” or general risk of re-arrest, which would invite implicit bias and negative racial stereotypes.

We are not alone in our call for immediate comprehensive pretrial justice reform. As a recent poll shows, seven in ten New York voters support ending the jailing of people charged with misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies while they await trail. We have also witnessed first-hand the tremendous enthusiasm and support for meaningful bail reform across the state. Our broken bail system is a moral stain on our justice system. We ask you not to squander this opportunity to make comprehensive bail reform a reality.

Sincerely,

Kelvin Beachum​, New York Jets
Josh McCown​, New York Jets
Demario Davis​, New Orleans Saints
Members of the Players Coalition

Chris Johnson​, New York Jets
Owner

FWD.us Statement on Anniversary of Kalief Browder’s death

Posted by FWD.us Press on 06/06/2018

WASHINGTON, DC – FWD.us President Todd Schulte issued the following statement today on the third anniversary of Kalief Browder’s death:

“Today marks the third anniversary of Kalief Browder’s tragic death. Kalief spent more than one thousand days in jail on Rikers Island as he awaited trial for a crime he didn’t commit. Everyday, 16,000 New Yorkers are jailed in New York on bails they cannot pay.

“Today, Kalief’s brother Akeem, launched the #IStandWithKalief pledge to end wealth-based detention in New York. FWD.us is proud to join the rapidly growing and diverse group of lawmakers and advocates honoring Kalief’s memory by pledging to reform New York’s pretrial system.

“Momentum continues to build for lawmakers to take action and FWD.us will continue to work alongside partners in state to make badly-needed reform a reality this legislative session.”