Following Governor Cuomo’s State of the State speech today, the New York Civil Liberties Union released the following statement, attributable to executive director Donna Lieberman:
“The governor today outlined important reforms to improve the exercise of democracy and the administration of justice in New York.
“While Washington reprises a failed ‘law and order’ agenda, the governor is showing New York can lead in the quest for justice. The NYCLU welcomes the governor’s announcement of plans to close more than 1,000 solitary confinement beds, continuing a statewide downward trend. Proposals for bail reform and ensuring defendants can access evidence before trial should help reduce mass incarceration. Programs that provide training and resources to help those who have been incarcerated will help New Yorkers successfully re-enter society following incarceration.
“In addition to taking up these reforms, lawmakers should pass the STAT Act, which would disclose policing data to improve transparency and accountability. They should also pass ‘Kalief’s law’ because speedy trial protections proposed by the governor today are not adequate to ensure New Yorkers awaiting trial on criminal charges are not forced to languish in jail when they have not even been found guilty.
“In seeking to interrupt gang violence, Gov. Cuomo is right to reject the school-to-deportation pipeline that has devastated families on Long Island. Where local police and schools have wrongly targeted students for suspension and deportation on mere suspicion, the state will instead offer expanded social services and afterschool activities – a more just end effective way to serve all communities. Yet, the state must provide assurances it won’t profile students or needlessly share information with the Trump administration.
“Safeguarding and growing voter participation is especially important at a time when so many in Washington seek to limit it. The governor’s early voting, automatic registration and same-day registration proposals would make the ballot more accessible to busy New Yorkers, so that work, school, and daily commitments aren’t barriers to participation. To that end, the governor and lawmakers should also ensure polling sites utilize electronic poll books to speed up the process and so that voters don’t need to cast provisional ballots.
“With access to health care under attack nationwide, especially women’s reproductive health, New York must lead by example. We welcome the governor’s support for fixes to our outdated state abortion law offered by the Reproductive Health Act, so that state law complies with Roe v. Wade, as well as a lasting requirement that insurers cannot deny contraceptive coverage with the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act.
“New Yorkers need our state to be a safe-haven. The proposals outlined today are important steps in that direction, and invite opportunity for further action to ensure that our rights and liberties are protected.”