November 23, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Mariah McGough, Mariah@vocal-ny.org
VOCAL-NY SLAMS NY PAROLE OFFICERS FOR INTIMIDATION AND ESCALATION AT RALLY IN ROCHESTER
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — On Monday parole officers with Public Employees Federation Division 236 physically assaulted an organizer with VOCAL-NY after being challenged for supporting mass incarceration and specifically the repeal of the Less Is More Act. Parole officers hosted a press conference calling for the continued incarceration of people for technical parole violations that was met with opposition from community members in Rochester. At the rally parole officers attempted to use physical violence to intimidate and silence Rochester residents who disagreed with their position. This reflects a growing pattern of right-wing violence in response to racial justice demands.
“Yesterday, we stood with our allies to counteract the biased views of parole officers about the Less is More Act. I was met with the exact harassment that people in prison and jail — especially Black women — are subjected to,” said Breyana Clark, Western New York Campaign Coordinator at VOCAL-NY who was harassed by parole officers at the rally. “Parole Officers of the PEF violently caused harm and physically pushed us back, yet we were referred to as savages. We refuse to let these parole officers spread misinformation that allows them to uphold the systems of oppression they benefit from.
To repeal the Less is More Act would only move New York backwards by sending more people to prison and jail, and further feeding the prison-industrial complex. The parole officers’ uncalled for use of force is even more evidence that we are on the right side of history, and we will stand our ground in supporting this law.”
“It’s not surprising that parole officers are cheerleaders for mass incarceration, their jobs depend on it and they care so little about the people under their surveillance that they want them jailed for even the smallest infractions,” said Nick Encalada-Malinowski, Civil Rights Campaigns Director at VOCAL-NY. “It is chilling that we must now expect demands for racial justice to be met with physical violence both from right-wing vigilantes and law enforcement employed by the state of New York. We call on Governor Hochul, Attorney General James and local officials in Rochester to publicly condemn the violence experienced by organizers at the hands of parole officers on Monday and to take action to immediately ensure that people under parole surveillance are not being similarly abused.”
The Less is More Act gives formerly incarcerated New Yorkers a life-changing opportunity to re-enter our society, instead of further incarceration for non-criminal violation that would only cost taxpayers. The bill received bipartisan support to pass last session, and was signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul in September.