NEW YORK- The Governor and the Legislature finalized the state budget for FY 2020 on a host of key legislative reforms. The following statement is attributable to the New York Civil Liberties Union executive director Donna Lieberman:
“Today marks a major step forward for the civil rights and civil liberties of New Yorkers across the state. This year’s budget is an indication that legislators heard voters’ voices loud and clear at the polls last year when they called for a more just and equal New York. At this crucial time when the Trump administration continues to attack our fundamental principle of justice for all, New York has taken important steps to make our criminal justice system more fair, expand access to voting, and strengthen our democracy.
“The NYCLU called on the legislature to enact a robust civil liberties agenda in the first 100 days of the legislative session, particularly to reform our state’s discovery, speedy trial, and bail laws, to substantially reduce the number of New Yorkers trapped behind bars. Today’s legislation is a critical step in addressing the systemic injustice and cruelty that was responsible for Kalief Browder’s death and has taken an enormous toll on black and brown New Yorkers. But much more needs to be done to ensure a justice system that is fair to everyone.
“Albany listened to New Yorkers’ calls to make voting simpler across the state by increasing access to electronic poll books and funding for early voting, as well as increasing transparency in policing, allowing New Yorkers more access to hold police departments accountable.
“Despite this progress, the legislature still needs to legalize marijuana and redress the issues caused by the war on drugs to communities of color.
“Today, New York becomes a stronger, more just, and fairer state for all. There’s more work to be done to ensure that every New Yorker that passes through our criminal system is treated fairly regardless of race or income. Today’s bail reform, in particular, needs to be expanded to cover all offenses. Lawmakers still have the remainder of the legislative session to deliver on the progressive agenda that was promised.”