FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 12, 2020
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Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic, New Yorkers United for Justice Calls for Protecting Everyone in the Justice System – Including Incarcerated Individuals
Coalition Releases List of Necessary Protections for Incarcerated Individuals, Jurors, Officers of the Court, and Others
(New York, NY) With COVID-19 now officially a pandemic, New Yorkers United for Justice is calling for immediate, specific actions to protect the health and safety of everyone involved with the state’s justice system, including incarcerated individuals, jurors, officers of the court, bailiffs, counsel, defendants and others. These populations are particularly susceptible to contracting COVID-19 due to their close interactions with one another in confined spaces and congregate living arrangements.
“We must protect everyone involved in the justice system, from those charged with crimes, to judges and court personnel, to jurors, to those confined in correctional facilities,” said Khalil Cumberbatch, Chief Strategist for the New Yorkers United for Justice. “That’s why we are calling on state officials in New York to take swift and transparent action now, before our system grinds to a halt and people are endangered, which will be otherwise inevitable.”
New Yorkers United for Justice is calling on state officials in New York to guarantee the following protections, immediately:
- Suspension of all jury selections and issuance of continuances for all trials to protect jurors, defendants, and officers of the court.
- A moratorium on warrants for technical parole violations that could result in mandatory prehearing detention and a moratorium on parole revocation for technical violations resulting in incarceration.
- Delayed court appearance dates for people with desk appearance tickets, minor offenses, and traffic violations.
- Emergency overtime and increased wages for incarcerated individuals employed to manufacture hand sanitizer and related health supplies.
- Broadened use of alternatives to incarceration, especially for those with compromised immune systems or other underlying health conditions.
- A comprehensive, publicly released plan for humanely and properly managing infections and caring for those affected by COVID-19 in correctional facilities.
“COVID-19 is both a health challenge and a human rights challenge, which is why we need to operate our criminal justice system with fairness and safety first at the forefront– especially at this perilous moment in New York State,” said Cumberbatch.
About New Yorker United for Justice (NYUJ):
New Yorkers United for Justice is a statewide coalition comprised of local and national non-profit organizations committed to supporting a movement that will bring much-needed criminal justice reform to New York State and ensure that policies promote safety and fairness. NYUJ aims for legislative urgency to fix a broken criminal justice system that punishes the poor and communities of color, tears families apart, and makes New Yorkers less safe. NYUJ believes that a system that ensures equal access to justice for anyone accused in New York State, regardless of age, race, ethnicity or social economic status, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or religion, must be the standard.