August 8, 2022
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Signs Legislative Package to Promote Greater Fairness and Restore Dignity for Justice-Involved Individuals

Governor Hochul Signs Legislative Package to Promote Greater Fairness and Restore Dignity for Justice-Involved Individuals

Legislation (A.6977A/S.643A) Helps Parolees Maintain Jobs and Continue their Education by Expanding the Hours of Required Community Supervision Programs to Non-working Hours

Legislation (A.9273/S.8216) Reduces Harmful Stigma Against Incarcerated People by Correcting Outdated Terminology Used in State Law

Governor Kathy Hochul today signed a legislative package to promote greater fairness and restore dignity for individuals that have been affected by the criminal justice system. New legislation will help parolees maintain their jobs or pursue education and training opportunities by expanding the hours that parolees can attend required community supervision programs to non-working hours. Additionally, new legislation will reduce harmful stigma against incarcerated people by correcting outdated terminology used to refer to incarcerated individuals in state law.

"In New York, we're doing everything in our power to show that justice and safety can go hand-in-hand," Governor Hochul said. "We can make our streets and communities safer by giving justice-involved individuals the chance to complete their rehabilitation program and work at the same time. By treating all New Yorkers with dignity and respect, we can improve public safety while ensuring New Yorkers have a fair shot at a second chance."

Legislation (A.6977A/S.643A) expands the hours that parolees can attend required community supervision programs to nonworking hours, which will help them maintain their jobs or continue their education programs. Parolees are often required to take substance abuse treatment and other rehabilitative programs during business hours, which makes it difficult for them to keep their jobs or attend educational or training courses. By better integrating community supervision programs into parolees' education, training, or employment schedules, this legislation will allow them to prioritize both rehabilitative programs and educational opportunities.

State Senator Luis Sepulveda said, "S.643A would require DOCCS to allow an employed parolee to take substance use treatment and other rehabilitative programs during nonworking hours, such as nights and weekends, rather than continuing the current practice of requiring them to miss days at work and risk being fired in order to participate in programs during the business day. Many programs offer their services on days, nights and weekends, or would do so in order to respond to the needs of their clients. Requiring parolees to quit or lose their jobs in order to attend programming violates one of the fundamental purposes of parole supervision which is to help parolees secure employment and become productive members of society. I would like to thank Governor Hochul for signing this important legislation into law."

Assemblymember Maritza Davila said, "I commend Governor Kathy Hochul for signing this very important piece of legislation, one of the things we need to do better is reintegrate those coming from correctional facilities back into society, this bill will allow those individuals to have both fulltime gainful employment or academic responsibilities to be able to still fulfill their obligations by using their nights and weekends to meet their obligations for substance abuse and other rehabilitative programs, either through in-person or video meetings. We as a society need to do everything we can to make the transition back into society easier and this piece of legislation does that."

Legislation (A.9273/S.8216) replaces instances of the word "inmate" in state law with "incarcerated individual". Individuals impacted by the criminal justice system have long noted that terms such as felon, inmate, prisoner, and convict dehumanize individuals and perpetuate the idea that incarcerated people should be permanently demonized and stigmatized. This language change within state law will reduce stigma against people involved in the criminal justice system and therefore eliminate barriers to opportunities that they face. Previous legislation covered all instances of state law but did not cover active pieces of legislation in 2021 that were signed into law and included the term "inmate".

State Senator Gustavo Rivera said, "Language matters. I am proud that my bill to replace all references of the word inmate with incarcerated individual in New York State law has been signed today by Governor Hochul. For too long, we as a society have thought of incarcerated individuals as less than people. The use of the word "inmate" further dehumanizes and demoralizes them. This is another concrete step our State is taking to make our criminal justice system one that focuses on rehabilitation, rather than relying solely on punishment."

Assemblymember Jeffrion L. Aubry said, "Penological terms such as felon, inmate, prisoner, offender, and convict dehumanize, degrade, and stigmatize people. Using a term such as 'incarcerated individual' recognizes the humanity of people and exemplifies the redeemable value of human beings. This new law seeks to correct outdated terminology that adversely impacts an individual's transition back into their community."

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

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