ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New Yorkers will be able to avoid jail time for most nonviolent parole violations under a new law signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul.
The Less is More Act signed Friday largely eliminates New York’s practice of incarcerating people for technical parole violations that include being late to an appointment with a parole officer, missing curfew, changing a residence without approval, and failing to attend a mandated program.
Supporters say incarcerating people for technical parole violations is costly and fuels the tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend.
"Our fellow New Yorkers on parole deserve to reenter society with our support and respect - reincarcerating parolees for technical violations traps them and doesn't help our communities," Hochul said. "New Yorkers currently serving sentences in jails and prisons also deserve our support - there is no justice in mistreating incarcerated New Yorkers. While this is just one step and more work needs to be done collaboratively with all levels of government, I am proud to take these steps to increase the safety in city jails, not only for those incarcerated, but for the staff who work tirelessly to keep operations running."
The state is working with the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to release up to 191 individuals on Rikers Island who will no longer qualify for incarceration.
“And we have far too many; 65% of the people that have been returned for parole violations were for these ‘technical violations.’ So, it doesn’t make us any safer. These people weren’t a danger in the first place, they were released properly, and because of a technicality they were returned," said Hochul.
DOCCS is also working with New York City officials to transfer hundreds of inmates from Rikers Island to other state prisons to prevent overcrowding and address staffing issues.
Hochul said 40 inmates sentenced to at least 90 days will be sent off of Rikers Island each day for the next five days, and will continue on a rolling basis for those eligible.
The Republican minority in the Legislature has accused Democrats of focusing more on perpetrators of crimes than victims.