Osborne and Social Service Providers Call on Legislators to Complete Session08 June 2020
This week, New York State-based social service providers, including the Osborne Association, gathered virtually to call for New York State elected officials to finish the legislative session (using remote technology) to address the needs of the most vulnerable New Yorkers.
Osborne Center for Justice Across Generations Director Tanya Krupat addressed the meeting, and Osborne President and CEO Elizabeth Gaynes provided written remarks for the press release. Listen to the press conference and read the press release here.
Elizabeth Gayes, President and CEO of the Osborne Assocaition:
“Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Osborne Association has had to adapt the way we reach and support the 12,000 individuals we serve each year. We have found creative and effective ways to engage and assist children and families with loved ones incarcerated during a time of extreme anxiety, stress, and financial strain. Although we have been unable to enter the jails and prisons, the need to improve the conditions under which people are living, and to release aging incarcerated men and women, has never been more urgent. It has become clear that the legislature is the key to addressing this human rights emergency. We call on the legislature to reconvene (remotely) and pass bills such as the Elder Parole, HALT, and Visit Codification bills. These bills are especially important for families and communities of color, disproportionately targeted by the justice system and ravaged by COVID-19. We need our elected officials to return to session and further safeguard vulnerable communities at this particularly challenging time.”
Tanya Krupat, Director of the Osborne Association’s Center for Justice Across Generations: During this time Osborne- like other providers- has adapted to continue to support individuals involved in the criminal justice system and their children and families. A primary concern right now is bringing people home as infection threatens the lives of those within prisons and jails, including staff who come in and out every day. COVID-19 is underscoring inequities and injustices that existed before this crisis: there were thousands of people in our prisons and jails - disproportionately people of color and low-income - who could and should be safely released. Now, this fact is a matter of life and death. There are close to 10,000 people in prison age 50 and over. There are people in their 70s, 80s who have served decades; people approved for release in a few months, people whose clemency petitions sit on the Governor’s desk awaiting approval... There is much the Governor can do to address this crisis, and the legislature can and should similarly act now as well.
Every day counts! Electeds can make a life-saving difference here.
We need the legislature to reconvene to pass several bills advancing justice across generations, not to mention across race and income inequities. The following critically important bills are in committee or awaiting votes on the floor
The Elder Parole giving people age 55 and over who have already served 15 years a chance to see the parole board and a chance at freedom. Older people pose little to no threat and should have been released long before.
The Fair and Timely Parole bill ensures parole considers who the person before them is TODAY, not who they were years or decades ago.
The HALT solitary confinement bill ends the torture that is solitary confinement and has broad support.
The Visit Codification bill which protects the right to in-person visiting, and is more important than ever before since we want to ensure that jails and prison reinstate visits when safely possible. Visits are critical lifelines for those inside and for the more than 100,000 children with parents incarcerated in New York State.
The Less Is More bill, The importance of this bill was tragically highlighted by the Rikers death of Michael Tyson who was jailed for a technical parole violation. And the Governor has lifted 1,100 parole warrants revealing that jailing people for technical violations is wrong as a matter of public health and public safety.
We look forward to working urgently and collaboratively with the legislature.
We join our esteemed colleagues today in calling for session to resume as quickly as possible.