Monday 10am Press Conference: Legislators & Advocates Call on Gov. Cuomo to Take Emergency Measures to Minimize Harms of Court Debt
60 NY State Legislators Sign Letter Calling On Cuomo to Take Immediate Executive Action
On Monday, April 27 at 10am, elected officials and advocates will hold a press conference calling on Governor Cuomo to immediately act to minimize the devastating harms caused by fines, fees, and court debt for the duration of this crisis.
Sixty state legislators signed a letter sent to Gov. Cuomo on Friday, urging him him to take seven (7) steps, using his expanded executive authority, to prevent poverty-based police-civilian interactions and incarceration, and to provide relief from widespread financial insecurity during this crisis.
In response to COVID-19, numerous jurisdictions across the U.S. are changing their fines and fees policies to protect public health, scale back the criminalization of poverty, and ensure that people can meet their basic needs.
- NY State Senator Tim Kennedy, Buffalo
- NY Assemblymember Pamela Hunter, Syracuse
- NY State Senator Julia Salazar, Brooklyn
- NY State Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, Manhattan
- Advocates from Bronx Defenders, Brooklyn Defender Services, Center for Community Alternatives, Fines and Fees Justice Center, and Fiscal Policy Institute
- Directly impacted individuals
Specifically, the legislators are asking Gov. Cuomo to issue an executive order to:
1. Stop jailing or detaining people for unpaid fines and fees and release those already detained. Work with the courts to withdraw all pending bench warrants issued for nonpayment of criminal court fines, fees, costs, and surcharges, or nonappearance in court on a date set for payment-related hearings, and prohibit law enforcement from executing any such warrants for the duration of the crisis.
2. Stop suspending driver’s licenses for not paying or appearing to contest traffic tickets for the duration of the state of emergency (not including suspensions for reasons related to points accrual, driving under the influence of alcohol, or other safety reasons). Reinstate driver’s licenses suspended for these reasons. In the interim, release individuals with a warning who are driving on a suspended license. Under no circumstances should these individuals be arrested, jailed, or prosecuted.
3. Stop collection of all criminal court fines, fees, surcharges, Transit Adjudication Bureau (TAB) fines, traffic violation fines, and parole and probation fees.
4. Waive for the duration of the state of emergency all late fees, interest accrual, and other consequences, including revoking or extending probation and parole sentences for nonpayment or late payment of criminal court fines, fees, costs, and surcharges, as well as TAB fines and traffic violation fines.
5. Stop the assessment and imposition of all criminal court fees and mandatory surcharges, and forgive all outstanding criminal court fees and surcharges.
6. Order local law enforcement to stop routinely citing people for parking and other minor violations in cases where they pose little or no threat to public safety.
7. Notify the public of the above changes so that families may plan their finances accordingly. Notify people at least a week in advance when their upcoming court, TAB, or traffic payment dates have been rescheduled due to the pandemic.