ALBANY, NY (WENY) — Advocates pushing for sentencing reform gathered outside the capital Wednesday to call on lawmakers to pass three bills introduced in last year’s legislative session: the Eliminate Mandatory Minimums Act, the Second Look Act, and the Earned Time Act.
And for many, these bills are personal.
Michael Capers was incarcerated at the age of 16 and spent 12 years in prison. He said he tried to take advantage of any opportunities available to rewrite his history but he wishes there would have been legislation like the Earned Time Act, to help him.
“People are going to be able to earn their way out of prison by educating themselves and education is the most formidable tool for rehabilitation,” he said.
Advocates emphasized that these bills would help provide better rehabilitative services for incarcerated individuals and ultimately give them hope.
Rally participant Gordon Davis was also incarcerated at the age of 16. He served 25 years in prison and is now 43-years-old. Like Capers, he said he also wishes he would have had the advantage of bills like the Earned Time Act, that essentially provides time allowances against an incarceration term.
“It would guarantee that people would not only work harder, but they’ll make sure that they’ll stay out of trouble because they want this good time, they want to go home,” he said.
The other bills in the legislative package intend to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences and allow judges to review excessive sentences.