State lawmakers are considering new criminal justice law changes in the coming weeks. And the momentum is building from events around the country.
The trial of former Officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd and the death of Daunte Wright this week is spurring action in Albany.
"We're all following gavel to gavel what's happening in Minnesota," said Sen. Jeremy Cooney, a Democrat from Rochester. "And what we're seeing in states across the country really reflects what we're seeing in our own backyard."
Democrats in the state Legislature are once again planning a package of criminal justice law changes. The coming weeks could see the consideration of bills meant to streamline the parole process and make it easier for older people in prison to be paroled as well.
"I have been shocked by how outdated and how unfair our parole system is to New Yorkers," Cooney said.
The bills are the latest measures meant to address one of the final legs of the criminal justice system.
"How we treat individuals once they serve their time is just out of whack with what we're seeing around the country and really around the globe," Cooney said.
Lawmakers last month moved to legalize cannabis, putting to rest a major facet of the drug war. And officials curtailed the use of solitary confinement in prisons.
"We can't cage our way to safety. We desperately need to reduce our reliance on this system of mass criminalization," said Rodney Holcombe of the group FWD.us. "Research has shown perpetual punishment does not make communities safer, but investing in communities does."
Holcombe said the current system disproportionantly affects communities of color.
"Whether that's policing, whether it's pre-trial detention, whether it's sentencing, whether it's parole reform, we're seeing racial disparities at every step of this system and it's critical that we address it at every turn possible," he said.