Democrats Seek To Build On Recent Criminal Justice Changes

More

NEW YORK NOW – Democrats in the state Legislature pushed Wednesday for the passage of what’s called the Justice Roadmap, a series of measures aimed at changing the racial outcomes of the criminal justice system.

Those measures include expanded parole options for older incarcerated people and legislation that would automatically expunge records for people who have completed their sentence after a certain amount of time.

Advocates who attended the virtual press conference on Wednesday said this week’s verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty of killing George Floyd in Minneapolis last year, could provide momentum for the proposals.

“We know that real justice is not found in a single conviction. Real justice is transformative, systemic change,” Mayfield said.

The virtual press conference was also a celebration of legislative changes already accomplished this year, such as a ban on long-term solitary confinement, and the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Lawmakers also repealed a law this year that had allowed arrests for loitering for the purpose of prostitution. The law, commonly called the “Walking While Trans Ban,” had historically been used to targeted transgender women of color.

That comes as the State Assembly passed legislation Wednesday to restore voting rights to parolees, which is another measure Democrats have pushed for.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, said the legislation was an important step in a return to civilian life for previously incarcerated people.

“This legislation would end the disenfranchisement of people who are actively working to rehabilitate themselves and reengage with their communities and public life,” Heastie said.

The bill, however, would not restore voting rights to people who are currently incarcerated, which was one of the stated goals of Democrats during the press conference Wednesday.

Among the other changes they’re pushing is the passage of the End Predatory Court Fees Act, which would stop the collection of parole and probation fees, eliminate mandatory minimum fines, and stop incarceration based on unpaid fines and fees.