MediaJustice

New York

Key Highlight: 2019 pretrial legislation opens door to EM

Videos

  • Topeka K. Sam:Topeka K. Sam described her two months on a monitor after serving time in federal prison.
  • Megan French-Marcelin:Activist Megan French-Marcelin discussed her efforts to fight electronic monitoring.

Pretrial/EM and the Law/Companies

Although New York City historically has not used pretrial electronic monitoring, there is concern that changes in bail legislation in 2019 would open the door to the spread of EM in New York City and other parts of the state. However, the new legislation contained a clause mandating that any monitoring would have to be run by a public or nonprofit entity, not a private company. According to several reports, there were no public or nonprofit entities involved in EM operations. Authorities then changed their minds in December 2019 and began allowing companies to contract for the devices.New York City contracted Israel-based Attenti to run its pretrial EM.

Prakash Churaman spent six years in New York prisons on a murder charge which was overturned in 2020. He was first incarcerated at the age of 15. Despite his conviction being reversed, the New York courts refused to release him but rather decided to try him again. They offered him a plea bargain-plead guilty and go free but he insists he is innocent and has “morals and ethics” so he is determined to clear his name. The man who he was accused of murdering was his best friend. A groundswell of support raised his bail but the court released him on 24/7 house arrest on January 19, 2021. He is only allowed out to go to court or to medical appointments. Since the courts were closed due to COVID-19, he does not know when his case will come to court. In the meantime, the courts have turned his house into a jail cell where he serves an indefinite sentence. on a GPS monitor. A powerful campaign has emerged in his defence, the FreePrakashAlliance. Hear Prakash’s story in his own words. For more details, so the Indypendent account.

Resistance

Advocacy groups like Survived and Punished offered serious critiques of New York bail reform legislation, arguing it would lead to an increase in mass supervision and electronic monitoring. They call EM “another form of incarceration that expands the capacity of the carceral system to surveil and control people in their homes.” Activists from the upstate anti-jail coalition, Justice and Unity for the Southern Tier (JUST) made similar arguments in opposition to EM.

Pretrial

The National Bail Fund Network , headquartered in New York, brings together more than 80 community bond and bail funds across the country to fight against cash bail and pretrial detention. They have been staunch opponents of pretrial electronic monitoring and all forms of surveillance.

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