In the Season of Freedom, Stand Up for the Less Is More Parole Reform Bill!
As we celebrate freedom during this season in the Jewish calendar, our tradition reminds us that coming out of Egypt is just the beginning of the journey. Two interconnected blessings in the morning prayers chart a process of liberation. The first is blessing God for freeing those who are imprisoned, matir asurim, and the following one is blessing God for helping people to stand up in dignity, zokef kefufim.
These linked blessings remind us that parolees coming out of prison in New York State are still bound by bureaucratic rules, and any infraction could send them back to jail. They are yet unable to stand up in the dignity of freedom. These two blessings appear under the title, Nisim B’chol Yom, Daily Miracles, urging us who are free and privileged to support others to walk tall in dignity, and to make the parole system in NYS less punitive and more just.
7,500 people under active parole supervision end up back in New York prisons each year for minor misconduct – at a rate almost double the average reincarceration rate of other states and disporportionately effecting People of Color. New York law allows parole officers to jail people accused of these “technical violations” before any hearing. People on parole have served their time and need help to reconnect to housing, families, jobs, and education. Incarceration for a minor mistake can disrupt hard-won progress, upending their lives, and exacerbating the problems that led to their incarceration in the first place.
In this season of liberation, let us call our legislators to support New York State parolees on the journey to freedom with dignity and public safety. Let us take the time this week to call our representatives and make our voices heard!
Right now, make three phone calls – to your Assembly Member, your Senator, and the Governor.