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.
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