Last Saturday, a coalition of advocates and lawmakers rallied on Mother’s Day weekend at a Rikers Island bus stop in Brooklyn and outside Bedford Hills prison for women in Westchester to support women and mothers behind bars and their families.

The group called on state lawmakers to pass a series of justice reforms, including bills to establish Elder Parole and Fair & Timely Parole, a bill to codify in-person prison visits, and a bill to support pregnant women at Rikers and Bedford Hills Correctional Facilities. The group also called for greater COVID-19 vaccination access and education.

In New York State prisons there are 8,000 incarcerated older people, many of whom are mothers and grandmothers. The State Parole Board is their only way for thousands of them to go home. The Release Aging People in Prison Campaign says the board denies release to the majority of people appearing before it, and disproportionately denies release to Black and Latino inmates.

Advocates are calling for the passage of the The Fair and Timely Parole Act that would reform the parole release process in New York State to ensure that incarcerated people appearing before the Parole Board are assessed for a chance at release based on their rehabilitation and current readiness for release.