Reform Jews across New York are working to pass the Less Is More parole reform bill through the state legislature. The Less Is More bill will end the incarceration of people on parole for minor, technical violations, a practice that incarcerates People of Color at disproportionate rates. The bill will increase public safety by increasing stability for people returning from prisons and provide them with incentives for good behavior.
The Less Is More Act (S.1144 Benjamin / A.5576–Forrest) will reform New York’s parole law to prevent the imprisonment of tens of thousands of people in the state who have completed their prison sentence, for minor technical parole violations. This is a racial justice issue: Black Americans are imprisoned for technical parole violations at twelve times the rate of white people in New York City and five times the rate of white people statewide.
The Less Is More Act is moving through the New York Senate, however, it is stalled in the Assembly. The Speaker of the Assembly, Carl Heastie, can get the bill moving again and bring it to the floor for a vote.
In 2020, RAC-NY helped pass “The Protect Our Courts Act," which bars Federal deportation authorities from arresting anyone going to, attending, or leaving court without a valid warrant. This act is helping stem a 1,700 percent increase in these arrests since 2016. This act strengthens our continued connection to our undocumented neighbors and to immigrant justice groups, and it helps our state and local courts function free from interference from Federal deportation authorities.
In 2019, RAC-NY helped pass “The Green Light Act” which makes driver’s licenses available to all New Yorkers, including our undocumented neighbors. This act makes our roads safer by making sure more drivers are licensed, trained and insured. Decent people no longer have to choose between catching two buses to work risking losing their job for being late or driving and risking being deported. They no longer have to choose between scrambling to find a ride to take their child to the hospital risking their child’s health or driving and risking being deported. The Green Light Act makes it possible for undocumented New Yorkers to get driver’s licenses and return a bit of dignity to their lives.
In its short two years of existence, RAC-NY has involved hundreds of Reform Jews from 50 Reform congregations and communities in these successful legislative efforts.
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