Milk Not Jails Announces Policy Agenda

14Mar12

Advocacy organization and start-up business Milk Not Jails announced their policy agenda today.  Outlining four criminal justice and four agriculture demands, the agenda calls on the New York State government to create a new urban-rural relationship.

Ahead of New York’s budget finalization, Milk Not Jails developed a policy agenda that is budget neutral.  It will not require any net spending increases to the State’s already strained budget, and helps find savings by decreasing New York State’s needless criminal justice spending.

The agenda was formed after months of discussions with dairy farmers, prison families, formerly and currently incarcerated people, and rural residents.  At least 3,000 people received a “policy ballot” asking them to rank the issues most important to them.

Until each demand is won, Milk Not Jails will work with other advocates and organizations to ensure our state government listens to the people’s call for fewer prisons and more farms.  See the policy agenda below, and visit milknotjails.org/policy to learn more about each issue.

Milk Not Jails is a grassroots alliance working to build an economic alternative to the prison industry in New York State.  We are a dairy marketing and distribution co-operative and we are a political campaign.

Milk Not Jails demands we:

Preserve New York’s Farmland. Every three and a half days, New York State loses a farm to suburban sprawl.  As more New Yorkers buy local food the state budget should be supporting local farms, not another housing bubble.

Legalize raw milk. The New York Legislature should follow the lead of 10 other states and legalize the retail sale of raw milk and allow farmers to produce other dairy products from raw milk. By legalizing the retail sale of raw milk and raw milk products, New York State could support the efforts of small family farms to produce healthy, local products that are in demand by local consumers.

Stop Dean Foods’ Monopoly. New York’s Attorney General should launch an anti-trust investigation of Dean Foods, a Texas-based corporation that controls 70 percent of all fluid milk distributed in New England.  Promoting small-scale farming is not only just, it means more jobs.

Offer More New York Food in Our Schools. The New York Legislature should pass a law requiring schools to prioritize the purchase of locally produced food, providing nutritious food for students and market opportunities for farmers.

Close Empty Prison Beds. Due largely to recent economic crises, budget constraints, drug law reform, and falling rates of incarceration over the last ten years, thousands of beds in once filled prisons are now empty.  Closing them would save the state millions each year.

End racist marijuana arrests. In the past decade the New York City Police Department has arrested over 400,000 people on low-level marijuana charges, most of them young blacks and Latinos, despite whites using at higher rates.  The police must stop this harmful, costly, and racist practice immediately.

Pass the Domestic Violence Survivors Act. This act would allow judges to sentence domestic violence survivors who are convicted of crimes directly related to the abuse they suffered to shorter prison terms and alternative-to-incarceration programs.

Pass the SAFE Parole Act. New York’s parole system is in need of reform.  This act would ensure that parole applicants are evaluated based on their readiness instead of punished with repeated, unjustified parole denials based on sometimes decades-old events.

For more information and press inquiries, contact Jeff Deutch, organizer.

MilkNotJails@gmail.com (201)669-0770



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