Criminal Justice Reform
In New York state, the criminal justice system is rife with numerous issues and requires significant overhaul.—Larry Sharpe
In addition to the high rates of recidivism, innocent people are being sent to jail simply because they cannot afford bail. Lawsuits are common and incredibly expensive. All of these issues contribute to overworked correctional officers who have a limited collective voice when it comes to addressing criminal justice reform.
To address the problems that have risen out of a troubled bail system, Larry will:
1) Mandate that a minimum of 4 methods of bail payment be made available by the courts, including the option to pay by debit or credit card.
2) Reduce bail amounts for low level non-violent offenders.
3) Provide low level non-violent offenders with GPS enabled ankle bracelets in lieu of jail.
Larry believes in creating CRUs (Community Reform Units) to help reduce recidivism, rehabilitate inmates, and give them a second chance at life. These CRUs will be operated by a combination of correctional officers and volunteers, including former inmates who are productive members of society. These CRUs are modeled after a Massachusetts initiative referred to as the HUMV program, which reduced recidivism rates from around 75% to around 5%. Input from corrections officers, former inmates, and current inmates will be essential making this objective clearly a team effort. Inmates will be screened to ensure that those with psychopathic tendencies, who present the lowest chances for successful completion, are not brought into the program. Upon completion, qualified inmates will be granted an early release. Over time, CRUs will generate savings for taxpayers as recidivism rates plummet and less people need to be imprisoned. The savings will be used to pay for both de-escalation training for guards and the hiring of new guards. The CRUs will also work alongside the newly created Office of Pardon in determining which prisoners are eligible for pardon or commutation of their sentence.
Correctional officers are overworked and understaffed which amplifies the incredibly stressful environment they work within. This is not conducive to proper treatment of those in state custody and It is very detrimental to the well-being of the corrections officers who have to experience these conditions. We will ensure that correctional officers get their contracts in a timely manner and will work hard to improve their overall working conditions. Some of this improvement will stem from decreased inmate populations which will result from legalization of marijuana/hemp and pardoning marijuana and SAFE Act offenders.
Incidences of wrong doing on the part of corrections officers and prisoners alike present a special problem in providing evidence for the prosecution of crimes committed behind prison walls. Greater consideration must be given to the placement and addition of cameras in prisons so that witness testimony is not so paramount to investigations.This necessarily reduces the impact of false accusations brought forth by inmates and offers a higher degree of protection for corrections officers. Inmates will also be protected from false allegations that correctional officers might make against them. Officers will be able to rely more upon surveillance to aid in the resolution of disputes between prisoners instead of eyewitness statements in which minor mistakes may lead to possibly losing their jobs. Ultimately, such measures will save the state a lot on the wasted funding commonly sunk into defending prison lawsuits.