Defenders hope Hochul will break up with Cuomo in prison


In recent weeks, Gov. Kathy Hochul has indicated she wants to break away from the administration of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and criminal justice advocates hope this will extend to state policies on matters. prison and incarceration.

Lawyers on Thursday mark the end of a 45-day review period by Hochul and her new administration to assess which Cuomo-era officials should be removed from office to push her to make broader policy changes penitentiary. Specifically, the advocates point to steps to reform the state’s parole laws for currently incarcerated seniors and use the clemency power of his office.

“Governor Hochul’s promise to break with the toxic practices of the previous administration was welcome,” said TeAna Taylor of the People’s Campaign for Parole Justice. “Now we ask him to honor the spirit of that commitment by working with us to give hope to families torn apart by the racist and brutal state system of mass incarceration.”

Advocates for parole and prison policy reforms have been energized over the past year and a half amid the pandemic and the spread of COVID-19 in facilities like prisons. They argued that older people, in particular, are most at risk while incarcerated.

At the same time, Taylor is asking for a full staffing of the state parole board with members more sensitive to the concerns of advocates.

The point is that she can implement these bills administratively by using her broad pardon powers to commute the sentences of incarcerated elderly people who have already served 15 years or more to at least allow them to appear in court. the National Parole Board for an individualized review., an assessment on a case-by-case basis and ensuring that the Parole Board is staffed with people who take responsibility for evaluating people against who they are today. hui, and not just the worst thing they’ve ever done, ”Taylor said.

Cuomo, while in power, decided to close many prisons as the number of people incarcerated has declined over the past decade. Hochul recently approved changes to state laws regarding parole violations and decided to release people from Rikers Island Prison to alleviate deteriorating conditions at the facility.

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