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Advocates: N.Y. Criminal Justice Reform Possible With Blue Supermajority

Prison Reform
Fifaliana Joy
Advocates want to end to solitary confinement in New York prisons.

Prison reform advocates in New York are eyeing the supermajority Democrats have in the state Senate and drawing up a list of changes they want made to the state prison system.

“If the risk is low, then let them go!" chanted a coalition of advocacy groups at a series of rallies across the state, "the supermajority has to step up and be accountable to our people."

They pushed for an end to solitary confinement, the release of older people serving long sentences, reforms to what they say is racial discrimination in parole statistics, and the legalization of recreational marijuana.

The groups where joined by a half dozen lawmakers, including Bronx Democrat Luis Sepulveda.

“I pledge to fight with everything I got to make sure our criminal justice system, our correctional system is not dependent on your bank account or your parents bank account or the color of your skin,” Sepulveda said.

Marvin Mayfield, an organizer at Center for Community Alternatives, said over the summer that the prison reform agenda has received support in the Assembly. He thinks leaders in the Senate are reluctant to embrace it.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.