Gov. Hochul signs law aimed at reducing parolee incarceration for technical violations
New York state is loosening its parole laws as Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation Friday aimed at keeping parolees from being incarcerated on technical violations.
Hochul signed the Less is More Act in Manhattan, surrounded by progressive activists and Democratic leaders.
The new law eases parole rules for former convicted prisoners who were released early.
Hochul said parolees used to be easily thrown back into the penal system for making small mistakes, like missing appointments or curfews and marijuana use.
"We have far too many, 65% of the people who have been returned for parole violation were returning for these technical violations," Hochul said.
Serena Liguori, of New Hour Long Island, helps women who have been released on parole. She said it is devastating when a small mistake is made, and former convicts go back to prison on technical violations. She said the new law is a step in the right direction.
"People will get the help they need instead of being thrown back into a system that literally devours lives," Liguori said.
Meantime, some opponents of the legislation said it actually could disincentivize people to reform themselves.
"While I believe reforms are needed in the system governing parole, I just think, as usual, they've pushed it too far," said Assemblyman Michael Montesano, who voted against the bill in Albany. He said it takes too much power away from parole officers and could result with more crime in communities.
"Now the parolees know that there is very little that a parole officer can do to them if any of the violations they commit. So what's the incentive for them to behave themselves?" Montesano said.
However, Acting Nassau County District Attorney Joyce Smith disagrees, saying in a statement to News 12 Long Island, "This law incentivizes good behavior and eliminates arbitrary obstacles that can often impact individuals who pose no threat to public safety."
"It is a senseless system, and this is a needed step in terms of reform," Liguori said.
Hochul also released 191 people from Rikers Island who were in jail for technical parole violations.