February 12th 2020 – A group of advocates and New York legislators rallied at the state capital to urge New York State to reject any rollbacks to the controversial bail reform law.
In a press conference on Wednesday, State lawmakers and advocacy organizations came together in an effort to convince New York legislators to deny a repeal or changes to bail reform and attempts to replace monetary bail. They also called on State Senate and Assembly to pass additional legislation to protect immigrants and end mass criminalization
The group is made up of several NY representatives, including Senator Julia Salazar, Senator Robert Jackson, Assemblymember Michael Blake, Assemblymember Dan Quart, Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry, Assemblymember Crystal People-Stokes, and others. They are joined by several advocacy organizations.
“We’re asking during the budget hearing today that our colleagues ask the critical questions of the administration and hear advocates’ voices,” said Assembly Member Catalina Cruz. “My commitment is for absolutely no rollbacks on bail and to move forward until we actually get this roadmap.”
The group says that the rally comes on the heels of ongoing revelations of misinformation by police and prosecutors seeking to undermine the new pretrial laws. They also say they’re prepared to fight against racist constructs like “predictive dangerousness”, and will fight for increased mental health resources for arrested individuals.
“If we look at the facts, we know that bail reform is working.” said Assembly Member Harvey Epstein. “We can prove that bail reform works for the families of New York. Let’s stand firm. My colleagues and I in the Assembly will stand firm on this.”
During the conference, advocates demanded legislators adopt what they call the “Justice Roadmap”: a slate of bills designed to address the harms caused by unaccountable over-policing, the separation of families, inhumane treatment, and a lack of due process protections.
Advocates made clear that they refuse to allow issues of justice to be used as bargaining chips against one another in budget negotiations and called on lawmakers to take further steps for justice.
“Our Justice Roadmap needs to be fulfilled. Our Senate, Assembly, and the governor need to step up,” Anne Oredeko from the Legal Aid Society’s Racial Justice Unit said. “If they don’t, we’ll remember. Our memories are long and we are strong.”