In a joint letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Leticia James, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and others, seven members of the clergy encouraged the elected officials to support the law despite claims from opponents that the measure is leaving dangerous criminals on the street.
- PHOTO BY JEREMY MOULE
- The Rev. James Simmons, right, and the Rev. Wanda Wilson, left, were among the speakers at a press conference today urging City Council not to amend its Police Accountability Board legislation to allow former law enforcement officers to serve on the body.
The law was intended to reduce the number of pretrial prisoners in the state’s jail system. Supporters argued that bail system disproportionately affected low-income people of color, who might be less able than wealthier suspects to meet bail and remain free until their trial.
“We urge you to stand strong in the face of fear-mongering and misinformation campaigns,” the clergy wrote.
“Thanks to the new bail law, fewer people will be forced to sit in jail because they’re too poor to pay for their freedom,” the letter went on later. “Fewer families and communities will be broken apart. And we can finally begin to address the painful legacy that mass incarceration has had on black and brown communities in our Monroe County area.”
James has said the law should be amended to allow judges to exercise discretion for repeat offenders and for those whom the court considers dangerous if set free.
The letter, dated January 14, concluded that the moment called for “moral leadership.”
The letter was signed by the Rev. Lane Campbell; the Rev. Shari Halliday-Quan; the Rev. Robert Hoggard; the Rev. Deni W. Mack; the Rev. James Simmons; the Rev. Marlowe Washington, and the Rev. Robert Thomas Werth.
David Andreatta is CITY's editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.