Advocates continue to urge legislature to pass parole reform bills before session ends

NY Capitol News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York State lawmakers have until Thursday to finish up passing bills for the year, and one of the issues that’s being discussed is parole reform.

“We want parole justice now. We need it. Make it count. Make this week count for us as Black communities, as brown communities, as survivors,” said Luz Marquez Benbow, National Organization of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault Co-Founder.

“We cannot continue to have a system in which the worst thing that you’ve ever done is the only thing that you are judged for,” said Senator Gustavo Rivera.

One of the proposals at hand is Elder Parole. Under the bill, incarcerated New Yorkers over the age of 55 who have served at least 15 years of their sentence would get an automatic parole hearing. If they’re not granted release, they’d get another hearing no more than two years later. 

“I have been to correctional facilities. I have seen 60-year-old, 70-year-old, 80-year-old women walking around these facilities with canes, walking around with walkers, in wheelchairs, and I have to tell you it, makes no sense to me,” said Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani.

There’s also the proposed Fair and Timely Parole Act, which would allow a parole board to place more of a focus on an incarcerated person’s rehabilitation, reform, and risk to society than the crime they’re serving time for. 

Republicans and prosecutors have raised concerns about both pieces of legislation. 

In a statement, the president of the District Attorneys Association Of The State Of New York said:

“If both of these acts are passed, a violent offender or a convicted murderer will be released after serving 15 years of their sentence and being 55 years of age unless the Parole Board determines that the offender poses a current and unreasonable risk to society.”

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