A Newly Progressive Senate To Support Sweeping Criminal Justice & Immigration Reform Platform
Legislators Join Advocates for Release of Justice Roadmap to ensure fair treatment for immigrants and communities of color
On Thursday, New York State lawmakers announced their support for sweeping changes to the laws and institutions that are most oppressive to New York’s communities of color. With decisive majorities in the State Senate and Assembly, they are poised to enact landmark legislation to overhaul the state’s criminal legal system in ways that will also have profound impacts on immigrant communities.
On Tuesday, President Trump delivered his third State of the Union address, and once again used his pulpit to broadcast racist lies about our nation’s immigrant population. As the federal government steps up its attacks on communities of color, the 2019 legislative session offers a turning point for our justice system in New York State.
New York State Senators joined 26 criminal justice and immigrant advocacy organizations to announce the Justice Roadmap, a platform of legislative priorities for expansive reforms to New York’s criminal legal and immigration-related systems. This collaboration of directly impacted people, legal service providers, advocacy groups, and faith leaders are joining forces to pass legislation that will protect the constitutional and human rights of New York’s immigrant communities and communities of color.
“Communities of color have historically been disproportionately impacted by the prison and immigration industrial complexes. Time has shown us that we cannot reform one without the other. It is imperative that we recognize immigration facilities as jails and prisons, and as such, when discussing criminal justice reform we need to make sure we are including immigration jails too. For too long individual’s caught up in either systems have been treated as less than human and have been used to advance business profit instead of what is best for our communities. The Justice Roadmap is a good start at addressing these critical issues, and we support the passage of these legislations,” said Jorge Vasquez, Associate Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF.
“Our criminal justice system is broken. Decades of draconian sentencing laws, unnecessary arrests, and cash bail have not made our communities any safer. The Americans in our justice system are also three times more likely to be LGBTQ--a reflection of the fact that it's a system that works for the powerful and penalizes the marginalized.
New York's era of mass incarceration is causing irreparable damage to families and people of color. It has only been worsened by Donald Trump and his xenophobic allies in Washington, who use ICE raids as a means to force undocumented immigrants into the shadows and cast fear over our communities.
We need change. There's no fairness in a system that denies justice for so many, and after years of inaction, I'm proud to stand with a Democratic majority that recognizes the critical importance of criminal justice reform. I am grateful to the advocates and groups who have been on the forefront of change, protecting the rights of our most vulnerable communities when our institutions, and the Republican Senate, failed to do their job.” - Senator Brad Hoylman
The Justice Roadmap identifies a list of immigration and criminal justice-based bills that – collectively – would undo the horrors of historically racist laws and policies. The bills would hold police accountable and reduce unconstitutional stops and arrests, protect immigrants from ICE, codify pre-trial due process rights, overhaul archaic sentencing and parole laws, and end solitary confinement in New York’s prisons.
For decades, New York’s black and brown populations have suffered degradation, detention and deportation under a network of repressive laws and institutions. These unrelenting systems show no signs of slowing down.
The announcement of the Justice Roadmap comes just days after the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn was in the news for subjecting inmates to freezing conditions locked inside their cells for days with little or no heat and electricity. On Tuesday, President Trump delivered his third State of the Union address, and once again used his pulpit to broadcast racist lies about our nation’s immigrant population. As the federal government steps up its attacks on communities of color, including immigrant communities, the 2019 legislative session offers a turning point for our justice system in New York State.
As New Yorkers, we have a responsibility to ensure our elected officials divest from mass criminalization, and invest in building communities. This slate of legislation - laid out in the Justice Roadmap - represents the path Governor Cuomo and the New York legislature can take to live up to New York’s values and forever end the systems that have oppressed Black, brown and immigrant communities for far too long. 2019 must be the year of action in Albany. Our people are suffering and we must not wait any longer.” - DeAnna Hoskins, President & CEO of JustleadershipUSA
"As this President’s immigration policies and rhetoric have made crystal clear, the criminalization of immigrants is a symptom of the same structural racism that gives rise to the disproportionate harms of the criminal legal system on all communities of color. Here in New York, it does not have to be this way. We can eliminate unnecessary criminal legal system contact, and roll back some of the most dehumanizing aspects of justice involvement. The legislation included in the Justice Roadmap will begin to alleviate the harms of the intertwined criminal legal system and immigration systems, and guide New York toward upholding the values of dignity and fairness for everyone.” Alisa Wellek, Executive Director, Immigrant Defense Project
"As we heard this week in the State of the Union address, the Trump Administration is committed to its war on immigrants and people of color, which means it is up to our local and state leadership to put forth bold legislation to protect and defend the most vulnerable amongst us. The Justice Road Map for New York – which includes expanding access to driver's licenses, restricting cooperation between local enforcement and immigration officers, and prohibiting ICE to enter our courts without a judicial warrant – provides the state legislature with a clear blueprint to build integrity and equality within our justice system. Immigrant New Yorkers and communities of color deserve more than just words of solidarity – we need a comprehensive state agenda that protects our safety, empowers our autonomy, and cultivates our growth," said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition.
The #HALTsolitary Campaign “stands in Solidarity with the united groups to address and say to Governor Cuomo and State Senators and Assembly Members that "We the People" demand a fairer and more just systemic change to reflect the real needs of the people. NY must pass the HALT Solitary Confinement Act – as is – NOW to end the torture of solitary for all people, including thousands of New Yorkers who regularly spend months, years, and even decades trapped in a box. NY must also bring pre-trial and parole justice, stop abusive policing, protect immigrants and immigrant communities, protect DV survivors facing prosecution, restore voting rights and higher education access to people who are incarcerated, promote and support the families and communities of incarcerated people, repair the harms of mass incarceration, pass the complete Justice Roadmap, and transform the entire injustice systems that are destroying people, families, and communities.” - Scott Paltrowitz, New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement, #HALTSolitary Campaign
About LatinoJustice PRLDEF
LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education.. For more information about LatinoJustice, visit www.latinojustice.org.
About the Immigrant Defense Project
The Immigrant Defense Project (IDP) is a New York-based nonprofit that works to secure fairness and justice for immigrants in the racially-biased U.S. criminal and immigration systems. IDP fights to end the current era of unprecedented mass criminalization, detention and deportation through a multi-pronged strategy including advocacy, litigation, legal support, community partnerships, and strategic communications. Visit www.immigrantdefenseproject.org and follow @ImmDefense.
JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA) is dedicated to cutting the US correctional population in #halfby2030. JLUSA empowers people most affected by incarceration to drive policy reform. Mass incarceration is the most significant domestic threat to the fabric of our democracy. The reason for such high incarceration rates is not serious crimes but misguided policies such as mandatory minimums, three-strikes laws and reductions in the availability of parole and other early release mechanisms. Through targeted advocacy, strengthening leadership and membership support, JustLeadershipUSA believes a decarcerated America is possible. Visit www.justleadershipusa.org and follow @JustLeadersUSA.