Push to change the New York State Parole system

Local

In an effort to change the parole system, a local state senator is teaming up with a local family who knows the process all too well.

Senator Jim Tedisco says the parole system is in need of major reform. He’s hoping to protect families and as he puts it, keep the worst of the worst behind bars.

Sen. Tedisco made that announcement and his push for reform in the parole system. Standing behind him were Michael and Regina Stewart whose 17-year-old son Christopher was killed by Dennis Drue back in 2012.

“Kind of a whirlwind month,” Members of the Stewart family said.

Because it’s been five years after Drue’s conviction, he was up for parole this month. His request was denied this time.

“There doesn’t seem to be any real rest for us.”

It’s a process they’ll have to go through again in another two years.

Part of Tedisco’s reform bill includes extending parole hearing from two years to five years.

“To know the system is already thinking about the rights of Drue and that he’s aware when he could potentially get out, it’s very tough on the family.”

“Frequency causes members to continually have to relive and that cycle becomes very quick and very emotional,” Karen Heggen said.

The new legislation would also ensure family members get to make impact statement to three parole board members instead of one during parole hearings.

“Difficult to put all our trust in one person in hopes our message would be conveyed to rest of the panel with interviewed Drue that’s a little unnerving when you’ve lost so much.”

The announcement comes after a string of violent offenders have been granted parole like convicted baby killer Marybeth Tinning.

 “Chronic serial offenders shouldn’t see the light of day,” Sen. Tedisco said.

Tedisco also wants to see life imprisonment for first-degree murder convictions and those who kill a first responder.

“I don’t think you should be out of prison if you kill a first responder.”

The bills still have to make to make it through the Assembly.

Meanwhile, there is no closure for the Stewarts who will have to go through another parole hearing for Drue in 2020.

“Christopher should be starting his career at this point who knows starting a family, so many what ifs. Those are the really sad things we think about when things come to light to this.”

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