FWD.us Statement Urges New York Lawmakers to Listen to Voters, Champion Bold Criminal Justice Reforms

ALBANY, NY – FWD.us New York State Director of Criminal Justice Reform Rodney Holcombe issued the following statement today after election results show voter support of criminal justice reform:

“Despite multimillion dollar ad campaigns saturated with lies, fear mongering, and racism, New York voters sent lawmakers a clear message: champion criminal justice reform. It’s clear that the scare tactics used by law enforcement and other opponents of reform did not work, and that Democrats who voted on first-in-the-nation pretrial justice reforms in 2019 reached historic majorities this election in the New York State Senate and Assembly despite being targeted through the campaign season for their support of these reforms.

“Unfortunately, these victories come at a time when the incarceration crisis in New York is worsening. The pandemic has laid bare what many already knew about the unsafe and deadly nature of prisons and jails, and we risk seeing thousands more infections and fatalities if this crisis isn’t immediately addressed. The number of people awaiting trial in New York jails is 19% higher now than it was before the 2020 bail reform rollbacks went into effect, meaning thousands more legally innocent people are subject to pretrial detention during a global pandemic. Prisons across the state are regularly experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks with no end in sight, and despite calls from advocates, the state has done far too little to curb the crisis and release vulnerable people.

“It is critical that lawmakers protect the 2019 pretrial reforms that kept tens of thousands of people out of jails, work to expand pretrial freedom, and create more meaningful opportunities for release for New Yorkers through passage of parole reform. More immediately, we call on the Governor to grant clemencies to aging people, people within one year of release, and immunocompromised people who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 in increasingly dangerous facilities. Inaction will cost us more lives, and New Yorkers are counting on their elected leaders to act with urgency.”

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