COVID-19 Communications | Announcements

Appeal to Governor Cuomo

On March 20th, our executive director joined leaders of a dozen other criminal justice agencies in New York — all members of the Governor’s Reentry Council —  urging Governor Cuomo to use his power and preempt a COVID crisis within the state prison system. See below.


March 20, 2020

To Governor Andrew M. Cuomo,

As leaders of the nonprofit reentry organizations signing below, we have proudly served on the Governor’s Reentry Council (New York State Council on Re-entry and Re-integration).

Collectively, we serve thousands of men and women in prison and under community supervision, and appreciate the opportunity we have had to draw on our experience to advise your office on best practices and policies that contribute to the successful release and reintegration of formerly incarcerated individuals.

We are aware of the extraordinary efforts that you and our state officials are making to keep New Yorkers safe, served and supported.

It is in that spirit that we call on you to release older and immune-compromised men and women who are incarcerated in New York’s state correctional facilities and who are at highest risk of contracting and spreading Covid-19.

The people who live and work in our state prisons are at special risk, and in addition to our health concerns for those whom we believe should be released, decreasing density in our facilities will make it safer for all who remain incarcerated as well as for your and our workforce.

We understand you may be concerned that many of those whom we call upon you to release will need supportive services, including transition planning, income supports, Medicaid, care management, and linkages to health care, jobs, education, training, and housing.

We stand ready to provide the necessary services and supports that would ensure that every individual released in response to the current crisis is connected to one of our organizations, or to our colleagues in the nonprofit, faith, housing and healthcare sectors who are best positioned to meet their needs.

We believe that there are hundreds of older and vulnerable adults in DOCCS facilities who could be released using multiple strategies:

  • Clemency (including many whose clemency applications are already in your office)
  • Medical furloughs for those whose healthcare needs would be better served in the community
  • Immediate release for people already scheduled to be released within the next 90 days on Parole, Conditional Release, or a definite sentence
  • Advancing parole re-hearing dates to April for those previously denied parole by a split or two-person board
  • Immediate review and simplified decision-making on applications for medical parole
  • Vacating parole revocation warrants or immediate revocation and restoration (Revoke and Restore) under appropriate conditions relevant to risk of contracting Covid-19

We want to assure you and the public that should you heed the virtually universal call from correctional healthcare professionals to release vulnerable populations from incarceration in the wake of this unprecedented health crisis, we are committed to supporting you and the men and women who should – and we hope will – come home.

 

Respectfully,

Alliance of Families for Justice

Soffiyah Elijah, Executive Director

 

Bard Prison Initiative

Max Kenner, Executive Director

 

Buffalo Urban League

Brenda McDuffie, President/CEO

 

Center for Community Alternatives

David Condliffe, Executive Director

 

Center for Employment Opportunity

Sam Schaeffer, CEO/Executive Director

 

The Doe Fund

George McDonald, President

 

Exodus Transitional Community

Julio Medina, Executive Director

 

Fortune Society

JoAnne Page, President

 

Hudson Link for Higher Education

Sean Pica, Executive Director

 

Legal Action Center

Paul Samuels, President

 

Osborne Association

Elizabeth Gaynes, President

 

Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College

Ann L. Jacobs, Executive Director

 

Women’s Prison Association

Georgia Lerner, Executive Director