Emily NaPier Singletary and her husband Derek are founders and co-directors of the Syracuse-based group "Unchained," which was founded on the fundamental belief that people who have lived through the criminal justice system know what’s wrong with it.
The couple consider themselves to be experts in this particular topic: Derek Singletary is currently in prison for manslaughter.
One of the issues that "Unchained" wants to address during this legislative session is parole reform.
According to Emily, almost 40% of people incarcerated in state prisons are there because of technical violations of parole, which are not laws. She and her husband are supportive of a bill that many Democrats in the legislature are coalescing around called the "Less is More Act."
"The ‘Less is More Act’ that we helped draft, focuses on parole violations and the length of parole," Singletary explained. "Right now, people are given a list of conditions they have to meet: Curfew, no alcohol or drugs, etc. If people break any of those rules, even though they are not crimes, they can be returned to prison immediately."
According to Singletary, "Less is More" uses positive reinforcement instead of prison to punctuate its point.
"Instead of having punishment-based system, we have an incentive-based system," explained Singletary. "We use earned time credits. For every thirty days a person goes without violating their parole, they earn thirty days off their parole supervision period."
Repeat offenders would be returned to prison, but only for thirty days.
"Why wouldn’t we want to free up resources for the state and let them (formerly incarcerated people) go on with their lives," Singletary asks.
Last year, Wayne Spence, the president of the Public Employees Federation, and a former parole officer told Capital Tonight that he is against the “Less is More” bill.
PEF’s opposition memo reads, in part, "As written, the bill language makes it virtually impossible to incarcerate anyone for violating one of the few violations deemed significant enough to merit re-incarceration (i.e., testing positive for alcohol or non-prescribed drugs or controlled substances, failing to report, and failing to notify of a change in address)."
"Less is More" is sponsored by Senator Brian Benjamin (D-Harlem). The former Assembly bill sponsor, Walter Moseley, was not re-elected. According to Singletary, her group, Unchained, is currently figuring out who will sponsor the bill in the lower house.