Cornel West headlines prisoners’ rights rally at Capitol

May 05, 2014
Advocates rallied Monday asking the state Legislature to pass widespread prison reforms, including legislation that would end current solitary confinement practices and allow judges’ discretion when sentencing domestic abuse victims.

Approximately 200 people joined the New York State Prisoner Justice Network, a coalition of prisoners’ rights advocates, for their advocacy day, in a rally to promote legislation that would tackle criminal justice inequalities.
“We’re one of the largest incarcerators in the world, this state [by] itself,” said Victorio Reyes, director Albany Social Justice Center. “So we just started making some phone calls, some of us knew a few people here and there, we started calling around and made some phone calls to New York City, and there were people in various rooms saying ‘we’re trying to work on reforms like parole reform and re-entry and ending solitary confinement.’…We found people all across the state sitting in small rooms talking about how messed up the criminal justice system is.”

The group is asking for the passage of the HALT Solitary Confinement Act (A.8588-a/s.6466-a); Safe parole Act (A.4108/S.1128); Domestic Violence Survivors Act (A.4314-c/S.3337-c); and the creation of a Truth and Justice Commission to address the injustice with in the state’s criminal justice system.
According to New York Prisoner Justice Network ,the state incarcerates nearly 90,000 people, spending millions in taxes.

Keynote speaker Dr. Cornel West called for an end to the war on drugs and racist and classist practices when it comes to the criminal justice system.

“I would not want to be in any other place than this spot to stand with you and let the world know that we’re going to stand contact with the humanity of our brothers and sisters who are disproportionately chocolate and whatever color they are we stand with them no matter what they system says,” West said. “A nation loses its soul if it becomes indifferent to the suffering of anybody.”

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