Statement For Immediate Release: March 27, 2019
Alexander Bryden | Alexander@jlusa.org | 908-400-7056
Loretta Kane | Loretta@caminopr.com | 917-410-7242
Directly Impacted Communities Call on Speaker Heastie, Democratic Legislature to End Money Bail and Decarcerate Jails
Advocates Demand Legislators Make Good on Promise to End Unjust and Discriminatory Bail Practices in New York State
Albany, NY – This week, as the New York State budget process enters its final days, some Democratic lawmakers have signaled an openness to legislation that would leave money bail partially in place. After repeated and emphatic statements of support for the elimination of money bail from Speaker Heastie, Governor Cuomo, and many other lawmakers — directly impacted leaders, faith-based organizations, and grassroots communities across the state would see anything less than the end to money bail as a severe broken promise. New York State must not squander this opportunity to lead the nation on bail overhaul.
Sixty-seven percent of New Yorkers languishing in jails are pretrial — they have not been convicted, but are incarcerated overwhelmingly because they cannot afford bail. Directly affected communities and grassroots advocates have fought back against this unjust, racist, and discriminatory practice, and have called for a complete transformation of the bail system. We have laid out our principles that any bail legislation must: eliminate money bail, dramatically reduce the number of people incarcerated pretrial, protect the presumption of innocence and include robust due process protections. New Yorkers deserve nothing less.
“We need real change right now – not empty or broken promises. As a person who who spent 11 months pretrial in the Nassau County jail, I know the tremendous harm of New York’s unjust bail system. Incarcerated because of money bail I could not afford, I lost my job and my home. After 11 months in that unsafe and inhumane jail – seeing no end in sight and no ability to access my constitutional right to a fair and speedy trial – I took a plea deal. There is no justice in tying your freedom to your wallet. Money bail and pretrial jailing drive mass incarceration, and disproportionately harm Black and brown communities and low-income people. Assembly Speaker Heastie, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Governor Cuomo must act – today – and move forward bail legislation that protects pretrial liberty and eliminates money bail – once and for all. Our communities deserve your leadership.” – Marvin Mayfield, member of JustLeadershipUSA and leader of the #FREEnewyork Campaign.