Hochul Freeing About 200 From Rikers, O’Mara Denounces The Move

September 17, 2021

From The Governor’s Office:

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul announced actions to improve justice and safety in city jails. The Governor signed the Less is More Act (S.1144A/A.5576A) which modifies the standard of evidence and certain other procedures when determining whether to revoke the community supervision of a person on parole. Governor Hochul also announced an agreement with the Department of Corrections and city to allow for incarcerated individuals who have been sentenced to at least ninety days to be transferred from Rikers Island to New York State facilities.

Governor Hochul: “I watched the Attica trials and I heard the stories come forth. To me it was more than watching on television. I saw people’s faces and I heard what went on in those horrific, horrific circumstances. I’m still in the resolve that that should not have happened 50 years ago – and it sure as hell shouldn’t be happening 50 years later in 2021.

“I also believe that what today is about is protecting human life, the lives of the people who are incarcerated as well as the corrections officers. It’s about protecting human rights. The right to work in a safe environment, the right to live and exist in an environment that is clean, hygienic, and above all safe. It’s also about protecting human dignity, and this questions who we are as a people when we can allow situations as we’ve seen in Rikers exist in a prosperous, mighty city like New York. The fact that this exists is an indictment on everyone. And I’m going to do what I can and I’ve taken some actions that I want to explain today because no one, no inmate, no corrections officer, no family members who visit should have to witness the reality of Rikers as it exists today.

“New York State incarcerates more people for parole violations than anywhere in the country. That is a point of shame for us, and it needs to be fixed. It’s going to be fixed today. … the Less is More Act advances critical reforms to make our criminal justice system a better and fairer institution. And what we’re going to do is bolster due process and have speedier hearings. … I’m very proud that New Yorkers have stepped up here today to help, first of all, institute a system that is a true justice system that doesn’t penalize people unfairly and gives people another chance in life.”

O’Mara’s Response:

State Senator Tom O’Mara (R-C-I, Big Flats) is denouncing today’s move by Governor Kathy Hochul to begin releasing more and more inmates from state prisons under a new law she signed today known as the “Less Is More Act.”

O’Mara said that Hochul’s signing of the legislation (S1144/A5576), which O’Mara voted against and strongly opposed when it was first approved by the Senate in early June, continues a troubling overhaul of the state’s parole laws that started under former Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Democrat supermajorities in the state Senate and Assembly.

The “Less Is More Act” seeks to facilitate the release of inmates currently incarcerated for so-called “technical” parole violations. While the law won’t take effect until next March, Hochul said today that she plans to move forward on her own to begin releasing more inmates before then. She announced plans to release nearly 200 inmates from Rikers Island in New York City.

O’Mara says that violent crimes in numerous cities across New York have jumped over the past few years. The homicide rate in the city of Syracuse, for example, increased by 55% between 2019 and 2020, while aggravated assaults were up 15%. According to reports, violent crime has surged in the city of Rochester. And in New York City, according to recent statistics from the NYPD, overall index crime rose by more than 30% since April 2020, including a nearly 20% jump in murders and a 35.6% increase in felony assaults.