Like the rest of the United States, New York State has seen a ballooning prison population since the early days of the War on Drugs and Reagan-era tough-on-crime policies.
In recent years, campaigns for decarceration have become increasingly mainstream, and this past year, Decarcerate the Hudson Valley, a new coalition of local advocacy organizations, has joined the fight. Formed in 2020 by a number of groups including For the Many (formerly Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson), Newburgh LGBTQ+ Center, Black Lives Matter Hudson Valley and Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance (DCPAA), Decarcerate works to lobby for state-level pieces of legislation that will help to reduce the Hudson Valley’s jail and prison population.
“Decarcerate the Hudson Valley is a coalition that brings together activists, community members, and impacted people in order to organize to address these inequities in our communities,” elaborated Political Coordinator at For the Many Brahvan Ranga. “We’re working with our partner organizations to lower incarceration rates, hold law enforcement accountable, and shift the focus of our criminal legal system from punishment to rehabilitation.”
“We talk with community members every day who are victims of this cruel and unjust system, from undocumented immigrants who are afraid of being ripped from their families and taken to a correctional facility, to Black and brown folks who live in fear in the face of militarized and unaccountable law enforcement, to the families of those who have been incarcerated on nonviolent drug crimes,” explained Ranga, adding,“This current system creates an atmosphere of fear and mistrust —and rips apart families and communities of color across the Hudson Valley.”