#FREEnewyork Campaign Responds to New York State’s Failure to Overhaul Bail, Discovery & Speedy Trial Law in 2018 Legislative Session Statement from Erin L. George, New York State Campaign Coordinator, JustLeadershipUSA

June 21, 2018

“The 2018 New York State legislative session closed today with Governor Cuomo and the New York State legislature having failed to overhaul New York State’s regressive and unjust pretrial laws. With this failure, Albany has, yet again, prioritized politics over the urgent need to end New York State’s jail crisis and protect the freedom and Constitutional rights of working class New Yorkers, people experiencing poverty, Black people, and people of color, including immigrants.

The #FREEnewyork campaign was built and led by people and communities directly impacted by mass incarceration, grassroots organizations, criminal justice reform and legal advocates, faith leaders & anti-violence groups from across the state. We placed REAL bail and discovery law solutions on a platter. Yet, Albany squandered the opportunity to pass this meaningful pretrial reform. As a result, more than 25,000 New Yorkers will continue to sit in jails across the state, a daily average that will persist in harming entire families and communities. In a state that chooses to jail 200,000 people each year, there are millions more with a direct stake in solving this issue.

We have lifted up the urgent need for New York State to end the jail crisis and have put forth legislative solutions that bring the overhaul of the pretrial justice system and the outcomes we need:  mass decarceration, ensuring liberty, fair trials and due process, setting strong limits on when & how any pretrial conditions are set, and protecting against excessive community supervision and harmful alternatives.

#FREEnewyork has built enormous grassroots power statewide –our communities have spoken out in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Cortland, Dutchess County, Kingston, Long Island, New York City, Rochester, Syracuse, Westchester County, Westport, and beyond. Due to our impact in Albany:

  • The Governor, Assembly and both the Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats have now each publicly acknowledged that pretrial system reform is critical.
  • New York State is now home to the strongest bail and discovery legislation in the nation – S3579A/A5033A (Gianaris/O’Donnell) and S7722/A10135 (Bailey/Benjamin/Blake).
  • Communities across our state and nation are looking to New York to pass these groundbreaking bills into law.
  • #FREEnewyork has disrupted the status quo in Albany by rejecting empty rhetoric and incremental, partial solutions.
  • We have demanded that bail reform address the profound structural inequalities of our pretrial system and end wealth and race based pretrial detention.

#FREEnewyork is stronger than ever and poised to win the real pretrial reforms that we demand in 2019. As directly impacted people leading this campaign, we will be relentless in organizing, public education, legislative and policy advocacy, and beyond. Because that is how we ensure that OUR solutions become the reality. That is how we end New York State’s jail crisis and #FREEnewyork.”