FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 10, 2021
ALBANY, NY -- Today, the New York State Legislature passed critical parole reform legislation, the Less is More Act, which will transform the lives of tens of thousands of New Yorkers. The Reform Jewish Movement through its New York Religious Action Center (RAC-NY), representing 99 congregations and 150,000 Reform Jews throughout the state, worked with the Less Is More NY Coalition to ensure passage of this landmark legislation.
In celebration of the passage of the Less is More Act, Rabbi Ilana Schachter and Rabbi Jonathan Blake released the following statements on behalf of RAC-NY.
Rabbi Ilana Schachter of Roslyn, New York shared:
“Today, the New York legislature took an important step towards racial justice and true public safety by ending the incarceration of people on parole for minor, technical violations such as missing curfew. Black Americans are imprisoned for technical parole violations at 12 times the rate of white people in New York City and five times the rate of white people statewide. The Reform Jewish Movement is committed to advancing racial equity and this law marks an important step towards creating a more just and whole world. Reform leaders from Long Island, the Hudson Valley, and other Upstate areas won the support of legislators who were previously hesitant about criminal justice reform. We were pleased to work as part of the Less Is More NY Coalition, led by Katal, A Little Piece of Light, and Unchained with 275 nonprofits and a unique coalition of law enforcement support.
“As rabbis, we are guided by our tradition which teaches time and time again of sin and repentance, of transgression and forgiveness, and ultimately of the welcoming back into the community of one who has made amends to those they wronged. The Less is More Act will allow our state to do just that.”
Rabbi Jonathan Blake of Scarsdale, New York shared:
“Reform Jews from across the state worked in coalition with those most impacted to ensure the passage of the Less is More Act and bring about a more equitable criminal justice system. Our fellow rabbis and congregational leaders met with 55 state legislators around the state. In Westchester County, an area represented by the majority leader, RAC-NY members, including the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, worked with the Senate majority leader to secure prioritization of this critical issue.
“We applaud the passage of the Less Is More Act, which paves a fair path back to the community, and will create a more racially equitable, humane, and cost-effective parole system. We urge Governor Cuomo to sign this bill immediately and help us create a more just New York.”
Additionally, Assemblymember Phara Souffrant Forrest, Less Is More Assembly sponsor shared:
“It has been my honor to work with the incredible Jewish religious leaders of RAC-NY and to witness their willingness to push legislators to ask the question of conscience: ‘Is it Right?’ And I am proud to say that after years of doing this work and asking that question, our government has come to understand that the injustices of our parole system are not right, and that the situation needed to be changed."
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the social justice office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose 850 congregations across North America encompass approximately 1.8 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.RAC.org for more.