Building Safe Communities
We know that community stability and well-being are the best ways to promote safety. States that invest in their social safety net (ex. Medicaid, education, public housing) have been proven to both improve health and decrease violence in their communities. My vision for building safe communities will rely on funding evidence-based violence prevention programs, and investing in historically disenfranchised communities, to root out the drivers of violence and plant the seeds of safety. In Albany, I will:
- Fund Community-Based Violence Prevention Programs (S1049/A10865), which leverage the connections that community members with lived experience can make with young folks at high risk for being victims or perpetrators of violence. When these credible messengers can build trusted mentorship relationships with young people, without the fear of police intervention, they can be incredibly effective at preventing violence and recidivism.
- Protect people experiencing a mental health crisis, by passing Daniel’s Law (S4814/A4697). In 2020, Daniel Prude was in crisis in Rochester NY and his family called 911, only to have the police respond and ultimately kill him. They did not understand his condition or his needs. Up to half of the victims of police violence have a disability, a majority of whom have a mental health disability. Building a robust mental health crisis response system that does not involve police, but instead consists of first responders with relevant expertise will help keep New Yorkers with mental health needs and their families, friends, and communities safe in times of crisis.
- Finance and Invest in Historically Disenfranchised Communities The racial wealth gap in New York, as in the rest of the United States, is persistent, structural, and extreme. The Covid-19 pandemic has illuminated and exacerbated previously existing historical inequities with black and brown neighborhoods experiencing a disproportionate share of death and economic devastation. Safe communities depend on a steady stream of investment to advance, sustain, and share economic growth. In order to finance a just recovery, rooted in racial justice and economic democracy, which enhances community wellbeing and safety, the State must:
- Enact the Public Banking Act (S1762A/A8290) to support cooperative and community-led development – from permanently affordable housing to small and worker-owned businesses – in Black, brown, and immigrant neighborhoods hardest hit by Covid-19.
- Allocate at least $100 million to the NYS Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Assistance Program for capital grants to expand community-controlled financial institutions specifically targeted to serve low-income and historically redlined communities.
- Protect communities from predatory wealth extraction by passing the Consumer and Small Business Protection Act (S6414/A2495A).
- Ensure that working-class families have access to housing by calculating AMI based on actual income within zip codes (S2621) rather than using the federal measurement, which prices working-class families out of access to affordable housing units.
- Establish the New York State Community Commission on Reparations and implement recommendations (S1118)
Decarceration, Decriminalization & Parole Justice
Caging our neighbors has not ended crime — but it has put the lives of millions of incarcerated New Yorkers at risk. Every three days, one incarcerated New Yorker dies in a state prison, with Black New Yorkers making up nearly 45 percent of those deaths. We must fight to end the cycle of incarceration, surveillance, and harm. As a state elected official, these are the steps I will take to reunite New Yorkers with their families and send fewer people into this broken system, through Decarceration, Decriminalization, and Parole Justice:
- Decriminalize Sex Work, by passing theStop Violence in the Sex Trades Act (S3075/A849). This will protect intersecting marginalized communities (immigrant, poor, LGBTQ+) from police harassment, affording them better access to workplace protections and health care.
- End the Failed War on Drugs by decriminalizing all low-level drug possession and expunging past misdemeanor drug convictions (S1284/A7109) (similar to the landmark legislation passed in Oregon last year), decriminalizing buprenorphine, a lifesaving treatment for opioid use disorder (S2524/A612), and repealing mandatory minimum sentencing, a key mechanism of mass incarceration (S7871/A9166).
- End The Criminalization of Poverty, by eliminating cash bail (S2101A), ending predatory court fees (S3979C/A2348), and passing the access to Representation Act, which establishes the right to legal counsel in immigration court proceedings (S81A/A1961). As James Baldwin said, “Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.” -- Institutions like cash bail and predatory court fees merely serve as a way to keep milking poor people for money at their lowest moments, and do not promote safety. I will also decriminalize fare evasion, which sets up an unjust racist and classist double standard -- car drivers who don’t pay their parking meter get a parking ticket, while subway riders who don’t pay their fare get arrested (S8115/A6119).
- Reduce the Prison Population. Our current system of mass incarceration persists in part because many incarcerated people are sentenced to unimaginably long sentences, without opportunities for release. I will fight for the common-sense bills Fair & Timely Parole (S7514/A4231A), and Elder Parole (S15A/A3475A), both of which provide more incarcerated folks, especially elders, with meaningful opportunities to appear before parole boards and have a chance at earlier release. I also support Post Conviction Relief (an opportunity to meaningfully review wrongful convictions) (S266/A98), the Second Look Act (defaulting to releasing more people on community supervision rather) (S1415), the Earned Time Act (earning “good time” credit through rehabilitative activities such as education) (S7873A/A84628), and the Ban Coercive Appeal Waivers (protecting defendants, who currently often must waive their rights in order to take plea deals) (S1280/A5687) (S1281/A5688).
I believe in the human rights and dignity of all people, incarcerated or not. As a state (assemblymember/ senator), I will fight to:
- Expand Democracy by restoring voting rights for people in prison (S3073 /A6646)
- Keep Families Together, through the Connecting Families Bill (allowing families voice communication at no cost) (S3512A/A3096A) and the Right to In-Person Visits Bill(S2841A/A4250A).
- End Forced Labor and Fair Pay, through the Prohibition on Forced Labor bills (S416/A3481A) & (S308/A3142), the Prison Minimum Wage Act (S287/A1643) and repealing the “Incarceration Fee” (S5981/A8215).
- Passing the Gender Identity Respect, Dignity and Safety Act, which ensures that incarcerated individuals are housed in accordance with their gender identity, and given access to gender-appropriate commissary items, and programming (S4702A/A5257A).
As a state (assemblymember/ senator), I will take seriously the job of holding police accountable, and preventing the unchecked expanse of our police force’s militaristic and surveillance power. This includes supporting bills to:
- Hold Officers Accountable, by ending qualified immunity (S1991A/A4331), and remove police discipline from collective bargaining (S4434/A1278).
- Prohibit Dangerous Surveillance Technology, including banning police use of invasive surveillance technology (S1347/A6124), facial recognition technology (S1076/A1601), and prohibiting police use of drones (S675/A3311).
- Demilitarize the Police, including prohibiting the transfer of federal military equipment to our city streets (S2099/A5419, S1134/A2535), prohibiting police use of chemical-based weapons against citizens (S809/A6216), limit their use of pepper-spray (A6568), prohibiting their use of dangerous audio dispersal devices (S2760/A2374), and banning the use of robots by the police (S6418).
People shouldn’t have to struggle to keep a roof over their head while landlords get rich by raising rents. We must guarantee housing as a human right
Green New York
People shouldn’t have to breathe poisoned air or die in flooded basements while fossil fuel companies make billions killing our planet. We must build publicly-owned renewable energy.
People shouldn’t have to decide between a trip to the emergency room and putting food on the table. We must provide single-payer health care in New York State.