New York State Public Protection Budget Hearing:Testimony of The Correctional Association of New York Testimony of The Correctional Association of New York Regarding the New York State Executive Budget Proposals State Fiscal Year 2018-2019 January 30, 2018

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New York State Public Protection Budget Hearing: Testimony of
The Correctional Association of New York
Regarding the New York State Executive Budget Proposals State Fiscal Year 2018-2019
January 30, 2018

The Correctional Association of New York (“the CA”) is an independent, non-profit organization founded by concerned citizens in 1844 and granted unique authority by the New York State Legislature to inspect prisons and report its findings and recommendations to the legislature, the public and the press. Through monitoring, research, public education and policy recommendations, the CA strives to make the administration of justice in NYS more fair, efficient and humane. Our unique access to NYS’s prisons and the information garnered from incarcerated persons and prison staff, combined with our policy and legislative expertise, informs our perspective today. Following an analysis of the budget details for the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), our testimony will discuss various other specific issues within the budget proposal and Article VII bills that have an impact on incarceration in New York.

Overall, with nearly $3.3 billion dollars proposed for DOCCS’ budget, the continued large and ever-increasing expenditure on incarcerating people raises concerns about the use of New York’s taxpayer dollars on prisons rather than on education, health, and other human services that actually help make our communities safer and thriving. There are also serious concerns regarding the allocations to the various divisions within DOCCS, and specifically the continued under- funding of program and medical-services. Moreover, while the Governor has proposed changes related to solitary confinement, geriatric parole release, temporary release, merit time and limited credit time allowance, and reentry, the substance and scope of these changes are grossly inadequate and need vast expansion. In addition, while it is positive the Governor has allocated substantial funds for Raise the Age implementation, other aspects of the proposed budget undermine the ability for effective implementation (including defunding of Close to Home).
Further, the Governor has proposed some positive changes related to jail and pre-trial issues of bail, speedy trial, and discovery, though these proposals also must be revised and expanded.

Ultimately through this 2018-2019 budget and/or current legislative session, New York must make a number of urgent inter-connected policy changes. Among other changes, New York must
end the torture of solitary confinement, protect domestic violence survivors facing abusive prosecution/sentences, and effectively implement Raise the Age and Close to Home. New York must expand parole release and ensure decisions are based on applicants’ current risk and readiness, implement more meaningful and progressive pre-trial reforms, reduce sentences and promote diversion and alternatives to incarceration. New York must close abusive prisons and jails and stop all staff brutality. New York must enhance family and community ties, restore full access to voting rights and higher education for people inside, enhance medical and mental health care and support, and provide greater support for people returning to outside communities and eliminate all reentry barriers. New York must also take serious steps to undo and repair the structural racism underlying the entire system.

Read the full testimony here.