Manhattan, NY - Today, Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Less Is More Parole Reform Act into New York State law. NYS Assemblyman and Correction Committee Chair David Weprin championed the bill for years in the state legislature before this historic moment. It is sponsored by Assemblymember Pharra Souffrant Forrest and in the Senate, by former state senator and now Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin. The bill passed out of the Assembly and the State Senate in June. Less Is More is one of the nation’s most progressive parole reform laws. The law will restrict the practice of immediately re-incarcerating individuals for non-criminal or minor technical violations of parole. After Illinois, no other state in the nation re-incarcerates more people for technical parole violations than New York. Moreover, re-incarceration for technical parole violations disproportionately affects communities of color. The Less Is More Parole Reform Act is a matter of racial and social justice.
The signing of Less Is More into law could not have come at a more urgent time. The COVID-19 pandemic was allowed to spread rampantly throughout NYC prison systems. Violence, overcrowding, unsafe and unsanitary conditions in correctional facilities like Rikers have created an atmosphere of despair which has contributed to the deaths of incarcerated individuals over the past year. The Less Is More law will keep people from re-entering overcrowded and dangerous correctional facilities. It will end the disruptive and unhelpful practice of separating family members from their loved ones because of a technical parole violation.
“For far too long, people who are on parole have lived in fear that a technical violation, like being late for curfew, would send them back to prison. We all know that life happens. Anyone who lives in New York is aware that subways and buses can run late and cause a missed deadline. A non-criminal technical parole violation should not be a reason for families to be separated from their loved ones,” said Assemblyman David Weprin. “The Less Is More Act will help end the punitive practice of re-incarcerating individuals and allow them the chance to reintegrate into their communities. As Chair of the Committee on Correction, I worked on this bill for many years. I am proud to witness this much needed signing today. I thank the sponsors of the bill, legislative leadership, the Governor, and the advocates for all of their tireless work on this bill.”
“For too long, our parole system has been in crisis, snatching away the opportunity for healing and growth and instead seeking punishment as the first solution to every problem. Today’s signing of Less is More will fundamentally change that, ameliorating the crisis of our jails and prisons by centering community integration and support rather than punishment. I am enormously grateful to Governor Hochul, our fearless advocates, and our brilliant legislative leadership for making this great win possible,” said Assemblymember Pharra Souffrant Forrest.
“It's a new day in New York! The Less is More: Community Supervision Revocation Reform Act is the most transformative parole reform legislation ever passed in the nation. No longer will New York have the distinction of re-incarcerating more people for non-criminal technical violations than any other state. Instead, our parole system will reward successes rather than punishing struggles. This is a victory for racial justice and a victory for economic justice. More than 300 groups across the state and dozens of public officials across the political spectrum sent a resounding message that, when it comes to parole, less is more. We are grateful to Governor Hochul for signing the legislation and to Lt. Governor Benjamin for carrying the bill in the Senate prior to accepting his new position, as well as to Assemblymember Souffrant Forrest and to Assemblymember David Weprin. Unchained looks forward to its swift implementation," said Derek Singletary, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Unchained.