NY Criminal Justice Coalition Reveals High Cost of Broken Parole System in Syracuse & Onondaga County
April 14, 2021

NY Criminal Justice Coalition Reveals High Cost of Broken Parole System in Syracuse & Onondaga County

SYRACUSE, NY—New Yorkers United for Justice (NYUJ)—a bipartisan criminal justice coalition of 14 national and local organizations—today hosted a press conference in Syracuse calling for the state legislature to pass parole reform in New York. NYUJ Executive Director Alexander Horwitz and NAACP Syracuse President Bishop Colette Matthews-Carter highlighted both the fiscal and human impact of a broken, wasteful parole system that unfairly reincarcerates for noncriminal technical violations (e.g., missing a curfew, being late to an appointment, not being able to secure employment) and disproportionately impacts New Yorkers of color.

The cost of incarceration, especially for technical violations, is significant in Onondaga County. NYUJ’s recent analysis showed that Onondaga County Jail spent an estimated $1,359,420, while Onondaga County Correctional Facility spent an estimated $5,618,936, to incarcerate individuals for technical parole violations in 2019. In Onondaga County, it costs an average of $248 per day to incarcerate an individual, and a full 8% of Onondaga County’s taxpayer dollars are spent to incarcerate individuals in jails.

“Every stage of New York State’s parole system in New York State is broken, costly, and unjust,” said Alexander Horwitz, Executive Director of NYUJ. “Our current parole system is harshly and unnecessarily carceral, targeting black and brown New Yorkers especially for reincarceration. Not only does it waste millions of taxpayer dollars for the sake of unnecessary punishment, it routinely upends lives and families with no benefit to public safety. We urge lawmakers in Albany to prioritize parole reform across the state this year and help put an end to this vicious, costly cycle of reincarceration.”

It is estimated that New York State spends approximately $683 million of taxpayer money annually incarcerating people for technical violation of their parole. The state spends $319 million annually incarcerating people returned to state prison for technical parole violations, while localities spend a combined total of nearly $91 million incarcerating individuals accused of alleged parole violations while they await disposition of the charges. In addition, New York City spent $273 million to detain people accused of technical violations.

“The racial disparity in parole decisions within New York State continues to be one of the most telling manifestations of a system that is broken and in need of reform,” said NAACP Syracuse President Bishop Colette Matthews-Carter. “Parole was intended to be an instrument that promotes good conduct and not meant to be punitive or severe. Parole reform is one of the most progressive decisions that lawmakers can deliver to counteract a correctional system that is unfair, costly, and outdated.”

About New Yorkers United for Justice (NYUJ)
New Yorkers United for Justice is a statewide coalition 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 socioeconomic status, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or religion, must be the standard.