Today, gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon released her criminal justice reform platform. Taken together with the pledges and commitments that other candidates and policymakers have offered over the past several months, it is clear that there is widespread acceptance of, and a broad base of support for the #FREEnewyork campaign values and policy demands on: the overhaul of bail, discovery, and speedy trial; long overdue reforms to New York’s parole system; marijuana legalization; and the eradication of solitary confinement across the state.
In particular, the support for real pretrial reform – reform that ends money bail for all people and all charges; ensures due process for anyone accused of a crime; and protects against the use of risk assessments, electronic monitoring, or punitive pretrial conditions – continues to grow. This is a testament to the statewide grassroots movement built by leaders who themselves have experienced the harms of mass criminalization.
On any given day, New York State needlessly jails 25,000 people, a vast majority of whom are legally innocent and are awaiting trial, disproportionately harming poor and working class people, Black people, people of color including immigrants, and LGBTQ New Yorkers. This costs New York taxpayers $2.5 billion per year. This waste of money, the lack of due process, and the racialized harm created by wealth-based bail are reason enough for overhaul. Jail conditions including cultures of violence and brutality, and environmentally unsound sites like Rikers, only magnify the crisis.
As a 501(c)(3) organization, JustLeadershipUSA and the #FREEnewyork campaign do not endorse any particular candidate or officeholder. We do, however, stand firm on our commitment that all who seek to serve the public trust work to enact the bold overhaul that New Yorkers impacted by mass incarceration deserve and demand. Our movement is intent on decarceration of all of New York’s jails. Pretrial overhaul and decarceration are matters of human rights, economic, racial, and environmental justice. Multiple elected officials in Albany have committed to addressing the urgency of New York State’s jail crisis, and candidates for election or reelection have continued to elevate the immediate need to address the issues that JustLeadershipUSA, our members, and our partners fight for daily. Ultimately, we look forward not to words but to real action from our next Governor and Legislature.