April 1, 2022


NEW YORK - This week, leading Jewish organizations and synagogues were invited by Governor Kathy Hochul’s administration to learn more about her plan to rollback significant advances in criminal justice reform. In response, Jews For Racial & Economic Justice, T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, New York Jewish Agenda, Avodah, Congregation Beth Elohim Dismantling Racism Team, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action - Riverdale & Long Island, and The Workers Circle, released the following statement urging protection of the existing reforms, including bail, discovery, and Raise the Age, and urgent investments in real community safety:

“Jewish organizations and congregations in New York are proud to have helped pass historic bail, discovery and Raise the Age reform legislation and we remain passionate supporters of the reforms. As Jews, we are called to uphold this progress because our values tell us that we must not accept a justice system that criminalizes poverty or that perpetuates racial injustice. We appreciated the opportunity to meet with key members of the Governor’s team.

While we have long been dismayed that other elected and law enforcement officials have worked tirelessly to undermine these reforms, we are especially disappointed that Governor Hochul’s plan serves to legitimize the misinformation being spread about the rise of crime in New York State.

As we stated on the call, and as all evidence shows, the rise in crime during the pandemic is not a result of these reforms, and therefore chipping away at them will not reduce crime or make New Yorkers safer. Instead, it will thrust more children into adult criminal courts and detain more people charged with low-level offenses at Rikers, a very dangerous place to be. This is a proven recipe for greater recidivism, a back-logged justice system, and a less safe New York for all of us. In short, these policies are not the cause and undoing them won't fix what is wrong.

This approach is a distraction from what is actually known to reduce crime - increased access to affordable housing, educational and economic opportunities, and better mental health care. This year’s budget should be a place to invest in evidence-based programs to support New Yorkers, not invest in failed policies of mass incarceration.

As Jews, we are called to care for the most vulnerable and political decisions that further crush Black, brown or poor New Yorkers call all of us to account. We urge state lawmakers to reject this plan."


Jews For Racial & Economic Justice is the home for Jewish New Yorkers organizing with our neighbors and allies to transform New York from a playground for the wealthy few into a real democracy for all of us, free from all forms of racist violence.