Building Bridges

The monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network

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Sunday, June 05, 2016

June 2016

THERE WAS NO JULY ISSUE,  WE WILL BE BACK ON AUGUST 5.

Welcome to the site of Building Bridges, Prison Action Network's newsletter 

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During the month we post late breaking news and announcements here, so please check back now and then.  Scroll down now to go directly to the June newsletter.



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Posted July 28 - the NYS Council of Churches

In conjunction with a wide variety of The New York State Council of Churches, in conjunction with a wide variety of other partners, cordially invites you to a thoughtful political conversation in Millerton, New York on Sunday, July 31 from 2:30 to 5 at the beautiful Watershed Center, 44 Kaye Road Millerton 12546. This is not about partisanship. It is about bringing our best selves to a conversation where we can build community, seek justice, heal, honor differences, organize and prepare to vote thoughtfully so that our democracy can be strengthened. Through your participation in this gathering, you can work with us to develop best approaches for these conversations that can be replicated in other parts state. Please click on the link below for more info.

http://ctznwell.nationbuilder.com/communitywell


Posted July 14  - Powerful letter
Byron Hurt

Got my tail brake light fixed today. I had been putting it off for quite some time but the murder of Philandro Castile gave me the extra incentive to get it done, pronto. Brothers and sisters are getting shot, killed, and jailed for what they claim to be minor traffic infractions. This is fact - a matter of public record. Police officers racially profile us. Cops pull us over more than they do white people.
I can't imagine being pulled over by the police, like Philandro did, with my wife in the front seat, my daughter in the back, and one very scared cop screaming outside of my driver's window with a gun his hand. It would be my worst nightmare come true -- my young daughter witnessing my murder as I reach into my glove compartment to pull out my registration.
Far too many white people either do not understand, or simply choose to dismiss in the most insensitive ways, the stress and terror felt by black and Latino people when pulled over by the cops. The littlest thing could cost you your life. That Facebook Live video of Philandro's murder was traumatic to so many of us because it visualized what we know happens to other black people, and what can happen to us on any given day. How many wives, mothers, sisters, and friends called the black and Latino men in their lives last week and implored us to be careful driving around our neighborhoods? They know as much as we do that using more care, precaution, and compliance alone won't protect us. But they implore anyway because it's the least they can to to protect us from Philandro's fate.
I guess that's what I'm feeling the most right now. Unprotected. Not that I ever truly was protected as a black man in America. But right now, more than ever before, it is crystal clear that, in general, black and Latino men and women are not protected from the men and women sworn to protect and serve us in this country. There are stories upon stories to prove this.
When I get pulled over, I'm unprotected. It's his or her words vs. my word. It's the luck of the draw. I am one racist, fearful cop, or, one sudden misinterpreted movement away from being shot to death. And after the bullets pierce my body and it bleeds out till I'm cold, they can say anything to their superiors to justify their actions. The "black male as criminal" trope will always work against me. Most people will believe I did something to deserve my death because being black and brown comes with a big, dark gray cloud of suspicion over my head. That's how criminalized and dehumanized I am in this society.
Even worse than that, the officer who killed me will more than likely be cleared of any wrongdoing, even if it is clear that my murder was unjustified. Cops are given the benefit of the doubt because their trope is the exact opposite of mine. They are seen as incapable of committing a crime against an innocent black or Latino person. Unlike me, they are protected by their system because they're the good guys and we're the bad ones. They keep "us" safe from "them." Subsequently, they are virtually guaranteed to get away with murder - over simple things like a traffic violation - which is why it was imperative for me to get my broken tail light fixed.
This ain't anti-cop. This is real talk.
Signed,
A fully-expressed black man.

Posted July 10 - Court rules in favor of Parole Board

The 2nd Department decision in the Cassidy case is bad. 

It says "At the conclusion of the de novo hearing, the petitioner was denied parole, based upon consideration, inter alia, of his 'institutional adjustment; including discipline and program participation,' his 'Risk and Needs Assessment,' and his 'needs for successful re-entry into the community,' as well as the [nature of the crime]"

Then it says that petitioner had to show by clear and convincing evidence that the Board violated a clear and unequivocal court order. And said "the determination made at the conclusion of the de novo hearing took into account his COMPAS assessment and other statutory factors. The written decision and the hearing transcript together demonstrate that the Parole Board fully complied with its responsibilities."



Posted July 10     JOB:
Aspiring shepherd wanted for the New York State Conservation Grazing (NYSCoG) Program. The shepherd will manage a flock of sheep at the 80 acre Tivoli Lake Preserve in Albany, NY.  NYSCoG seeks to help young and beginning farmers gain access to land and infrastructure, and to begin grazing enterprises, while simultaneously assisting municipal, county and state governments in meeting vegetation management goals. The shepherd will receive the use of land, a flock of sheep, summer and winter housing for the sheep, fencing, winter hay, meds, and insurance, and will participate in grazing and pasture management planning. The shepherd will own the agricultural products of the enterprise (lambs, wool). Project begins in July 2016. Contact Dr. Gary Kleppel at Longfield Farm, 518 362 6576 or gkleppel@albany.edu

Posted June 10: “Faces of Mass Incarceration”© documentary GoFundMe page is launched! 





When you visit that page you will find links to the incredible trailer Matt Duhamel (Metamora Films) created for this project.  Here is the link:  gofundme.com/255x3cc

This is an extraordinary opportunity for us to put a face on the REAL prison family that will make a powerful difference in the lives of those we care about so deeply.
Please share the information and link with all of your contacts and post and re-post and tweet and re-tweet it often.


June 13:  On page A18, the New York Times published an article accusing the NYS Parole Board of being broken, focusing on a model prisoner(sic) who has a perfect institutional record. 

He has earned degrees in business administration and the arts, counseled other inmates nearing their own release dates, and, with the help of a $10,000 grant, he established a program to give victims an opportunity to speak directly to inmates about the impact of their crimes. At his last parole hearing, he told the board, “I did that in memory of my victim, to show his family that this is the best I can do to make up for it.” The board’s response? “Parole denied.” Because [the crime] showed “a serious disregard for the law” and for “the sanctity of human life,” the board wrote in its brief, boilerplate decision, his release would “undermine respect for the law.” The decision did not say [the parole applicant] posed any risk to society, and it made only glancing reference to the many letters supporting his release.






Building Bridges June 2016

Dear Reader,
  
Building Bridges will not publish in July.  The next issue will be published on August 1st.
Continuing with Feeling the Bern:   I wasn’t going to campaign for Bernie Sanders by bad-mouthing Hillary, but I have just read some information that leads me to believe that she may not only be untrustworthy, but she might also be dangerous.  
According to Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, who wrote a letter to President Obama on the subject of those “Damned Emails” -  “Really a Concern”, in which they present evidence that Hillary Clinton willfully and knowingly violated laws designed to protect classified information from unauthorized disclosure;  an act that compromises our national safety.  Her mishandling of very sensitive information can neutralize intelligence programs costing billions of dollars, wreck liaison relationships assiduously cultivated for decades, and get a lot of people killed.  She has called it a “mistake,” but she knows from being Secretary of State about the basic laws and regulations designed to prevent the compromise of classified information. Anyone with the proper equipment, knowledge and motivation might have been able to obtain access. That is what hackers are able to do, with considerable success, against government servers that are far better protected than the private email server located in her New York State home. There is a hacker who says he did now being questioned. In one of Secretary Clinton’s emails, she instructed her staff simply to remove a classification label and send the information to her on her server.
So the question is not whether Secretary Clinton broke the law. She did. Secretary Clinton’s security violations can have impact not only on whether she becomes our next president, but also on whether she would, in that case, be beholden to those who know what lies hidden from the rest of us.  In addition, information hacked by foreign intelligence services or expert hackers can also provide useful grist for leverage or blackmail.
A political revolution in the form of various movements working together to demand a popular vote has a better chance of getting the nation back from the moneyed interests than voting for Clinton.  Even now Sanders is splitting some of his campaign contributions with the people we need to be in place in Congress whether he gets elected or not. So don’t get discouraged.  The fight is far from over.  Visit https://go.berniesanders.com and do something!        I envision celebrating democracy on election day, when we begin a new style of government in the USA.     May it be a better way!   [Article #1, taken from an article by Peter Wagner of Prison Policy Initiative,  reminds us of the laws that contributed to our current situation and gives advice for how to make your Presidential selection].           Don’t give up!   Your Editor 

Table of Contents - Lots and lots of statistics!
  1. Peter Wagner tallies the extent of Clinton era crime bills.
  2. Parole News  NEW! April Release Rates, include ALL parole decisions,                                                          and reports on Hawkins, MacKenzie victories.
  3. SAFE Parole Act - FED Tour stops in Ithaca on June 17.
  4. NetWORKS interviews Multigenerational Organizing activists.
  5. Legislation: All that time and money and so far no C.J. bills pass both houses.
  6. Karima Amin reports on Immersion East Side.
  7. Corey Parks on Nelson Mandela’s influence.


While many current and recent presidential candidates have called for ending mass incarceration and have been critical of the "Clinton crime bill," their proposals have been short on specifics. Even more troubling however, is their narrow view — and that of many journalists — of Bill Clinton's criminal justice legacy. The problem isn't one bill, or two or even three but at least seven bills. (BB is publishing only 5 due to space limitations.  -ED)
Some of the bills were so bad they have already been partially repealed by Congress, and most states have already formally rejected the offensive idea of using criminal records to deny hungry people food. Some of the provisions of some of the bills have since expired.  But here is our list of where a review of the criminal justice legacy of the Clinton era should begin:
  • 1994: Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act put 100,000 more police on the streets and created federal economic incentives for states to make their own laws more punitive. This law also made low-income incarcerated people ineligible for Pell Grants to pay for higher education courses.
  • 1996: The Prison Litigation Reform Act made it harder for incarcerated people to use the federal courts to protect their civil rights, and made it easier for prisons and jails to escape oversight of their operations.
  • 1996: The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act made it harder for wrongly convicted people to prove their innocence.
  • 1996: Megan's Law required states to share law enforcement’s databases of people who have committed sex offenses with the public. While no doubt well-intended, there is no evidence — despite years of scholarly effort — to indicate that these laws reduce sex offender recidivism. In fact, they seem increasingly likely to be exacerbating it while wasting resources and time that could be spent on other, more effective law enforcement activities.
  • 1996: The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, aka the bill to "end welfare as we know it," also included provisions that banned, for life, people with drug felony convictions from ever receiving food stamps.

While Megan’s Law continues to be expanded, some of these laws have expired or are in one way or another rolling back. For example:   the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, the Adoption and Safe Families Act , and the Higher Education Act.  Ending mass incarceration will require far more than repealing one – or seven – of Bill Clinton’s crime bills. But one test of whether an elected official is serious about ending mass incarceration is whether he or she recognizes the complexity of how mass incarceration came to be and can put forth sufficiently complex remedies to undo that harm.

Published with permission from Peter Wagner, Executive Director, Prison Policy Initiative http://www.prisonpolicy.org http://www.prisonersofthecensus.org    Do you receive PPI’s newsletters? http://www.prisonpolicy.org/subscribe/



2.  Parole News - April 2016 Release Rates
PAROLE BOARD RELEASES - A1 VIOLENT FELONS DIN #s through 2001   
unofficial research from parole database

April  2016 - Interview Summaries

Types
Total 
# Released
# Denied
Rate of Release
YTD Rlsd
Initials 
20
7
13
35%
30%
Reappearances
86
22
64
26%
27%
Total 
106
29
77
27%
27%

There were 23 Special Consideration hearings - 15 denied - 5 released       


April 2016 - Initial Releases
Facility
Age @ hearing
Age @ Commitment
Sentence
Offense
# of Board
Coxsackie
89
65
25-Life
Mrd 2
1
Otisville
51
29
23-Life
Att Mrd 1
1
Otisville
36
20
17-Life
Mrd 2
1
Otisville
42
23
22-Life
Mrd 2
1
Sullivan
47
21
27-Life
Mrd 2
1
Taconic-female
38
17
22-Life
Mrd 2
1
Woodbourne
43
19
25-Life
Mrd 2
1


April 2016 - Reappearance Releases    (Note: We have to guess at the number of Boards, because there is no record of how many de novos, postponements, 6-, 12-, 18-month holds, etc have taken place over the years.  Feel free to correct us if we guessed wrong.)

Facility
Age @ hearing
Age @ Commitment
Sentence
Offense
# of Board
Auburn
51
30
25-Life
Mrd 2
2
Bare hill
48
25
4-5 ?
Mrd 2
?
Cayuga
60
40
27-Life
Mrd 2
3
Clinton
50
22
25-Life
Mrd 2
3
Clinton
67
32
25-Life
Mrd 2
6
Fishkill
46
19
22-Life
Mrd 2
4
Fishkill
55
26
28-Life
Kidnap 1
2
Great meadow
42
21
9-Life
Jo Mrd1
9
Great meadow
58
25
19-Life
Mrd 2
9
Great meadow
69
24
15-Life
Pre 74 Mrd
  18 **
Green haven
42
22
15-Life
Mrd 2
5
Otisville
41
18
17-Life
Mrd 2
4
Otisville
43
22
20-Life
Mrd 2
2
Otisville
46
26
15-Life
Mrd 2
6
Otisville
49
20
29-Life
Att Mrd1
    2 **
Riverview
58
29
25-Life
Mrd 2
4
Sing sing
35
20
15-Life
 Mrd 2
   2 *
Sing sing
60
21
25-Life
Mrd 2
8
Ulster
51
26
23-Life
Mrd 2
    3 **
Woodbourne
51
25
15-Life
Mrd 2
7
Woodbourne
59
23
25-Life
Mrd 2
    7 **
Woodbourne
46
25
20-Life
Mrd 2
    2 **
* parole violation     ** special consideration 


April 2016 - Over 60 Age Summary
Age Range
Total seen
# Released
# Denied 
April Release Rate
Year to Date Release Rate
60-69
21
4
17
19%
21%
70-79
1
0
1
0%
15%
80+
1
1
0
100%
50%
Total
23
5
18
22%
21%


April 2016 - Starting this month a summary of All Parole Releases, not just A1VOs, will be reported
Type of Release
Total Seen
# Released
# Denied
April Rate of Release
Initials
380
85
295
22%
Reappearances
466
124
342
27%
Total 
846
209
637
25%


Year to Date (1/16 - 4/16) -Summary of ALL Parole Releases (to catch you up, since this is a new addition)
Type of Appearance
Total 
# Released
# Denied
Rate of Release
Initials
1814
400
1414
22%
Reappearances
1692
492
1200
29%
Total
3506
892
2614
25%


Dempsey Hawkins won by a split decision, on April 26 2016, in NYS Appellate Court, over the Parole Board who wanted to appeal a Sullivan County Supreme Court ruling which annulled his 9th parole denial in 2014 and granted a de novo, as well as criticized the Board's behavior.  The Appellate Court, in considering the Board’s appeal request, focused on a part of Hawkins' argument that asserted the Board failed to consider the significance of his youth and its attendant circumstances at the time of the crime. 
In an impressive 58 page brief written by Issa Kohler-Hausmann and Christopher Seeds, members of Hawkin's legal team , other issues were also addressed,  several of which expose common parole board abuses as experienced by many parole applicants, their families and advocates.  [Email copies of the brief or the decision can be had by contacting parolereform@gmail.com]
The case of John MacKenzie against NYS Parole Board.  In 2014, after many years of parole denials, Mr MacKenzie sought review through an Article 78 proceeding and the Supreme Court, on Oct 2, 2015, granted the petition and vacated the Board's 2014 decision and ordered a de novo hearing. The Board held another hearing on Dec 15, 2015 and on that same day issued a denial virtually the same as the 2014 decision; still not in conformance with the law, ignoring the Supreme Court's October decision, order and judgment.  MacKenzie brought a contempt application and on May 20, 2016, the Supreme Court held a contempt hearing. The only witness to testify at the hearing was the petitioner, who gave a very stirring and convincing presentation. No one testified on the Board's behalf.  Their counsel moved to dismiss. The Court denied the motion to dismiss and ruled that the Board was in contempt of the Court's prior directive that they must not deny parole solely on the basis of the crime, if parole isn't granted to this petitioner, when and under what circumstances would it be granted?",  said the Court.  The Court ordered the Board be fined $500 per day starting on June 7 for each day until an actual de novo is held and "a decision is issued in accordance with Exec. Law 259-i(2).  None of the members of either the 2014 or 2015 parole boards shall participate.   
Signed, Maria G.Rosa, J.S.C.
Kathy Manley, Esq, of Kindlon Shanks & Assoc, represented Mr. MacKenzie



3.  The Safe and Fair Evaluations (SAFE) Parole Act   
The Family Empowerment Tour 
Is stopping in Ithaca on Friday, June 17, 2016
At St. John’s Episcopal Church, 210 N. Cayuga St.
You are invited by the Episcopal Peace and Fellowship Group of St. John’s Episcopal Church and the Ithaca Prisoner Justice Network to enjoy lunch at noon on Friday, June 17th at the regularly scheduled free Loaves and Fishes meal at the church, and stay afterwards for dessert and a presentation on the need for Parole Justice.
The program will consist of The Nature of the Crime, a documentary directed by Josh Swartz which features someone who was on the receiving end of the parole board’s practices, with candid comments from former Parole Board commissioners and community advocates.  
There will be time for audience to ask questions and tell stories, if you have any, of your or a friend or family member’s contact with the parole board.  For more information, please call Joey at 607-273-0960 or Judith at 518-253-7533.



4.  NetWORKS: 
The monthly column of the N Y S Prisoner Justice Network
Multigenerational Organizing

The passionate young radicals of the 60’s marched under the banner, “Revolution In Our Lifetime.” Then, in the course of opposing the Vietnam war, they met Vietnamese who saw themselves as part of a chain of resistance to colonization going back 1000 years. The Vietnamese taught the U.S. antiwar radicals a very different approach: “We will fight from one generation to the next.” A lifetime later, it’s a lesson still worth learning. How do we build long-term movements that can stay the course to make deep and lasting changes in an unjust society? 
In the spirit of that lesson, this month Your Reporter (YR) interviewed members of Capital Area Against Mass Incarceration (CAAMI), a multigenerational and multiracial group based in Albany, New York, organizing against incarceration, police violence, racism, and all oppression. NJ (72), TA (38), and CL (28), talk about what it means to them to organize together across generations.

YR: What does “multigenerational organizing” mean to CAAMI? 
CL: CAAMI’s multigenerational organizing incorporates core skills and tactics used in movements throughout the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s and blends them with the newer tactics such as the incorporation of social media. 
TA: CAAMI’s foundation was as a multigenerational organization, with people in their early twenties to late sixties. We’ve continued to involve people within that spectrum, and beyond.
NJ: We didn’t plan to have a multi-generational organization. We were much more intentional about being multiracial. We were drawn together across generations by the impact of racial injustice, police violence, and mass incarceration. 

YR: What is the special value of organizing with people of other generations?
CL: Along with the experience and wisdom of organizers who have been active since their youth, we use the connections made by these community members to bring injustices in our community to the general public. 
TA: I have benefited and grown greatly as an activist and as a human from working with people of generations before and after mine. Especially when we are talking about people who have been working in liberation movements for many decades, I appreciate the wisdom they have to offer from their lifetime of experience. I especially appreciate their historical perspective. I also appreciate working with people younger than I am. I appreciate the fire, energy and urgency they bring to the work, and the new analysis they bring as our world and work continues to evolve. 
NJ:  For CAAMI, I think the differences help us do broader outreach than one generation could do alone. For me personally, I’ve had to rise to the occasion to become an elder, to put all my experience at the service of our collective work. The reward is seeing  the work of justice being carried forward. 

YR: How does generation intersect with other aspects of your identity in your CAAMI organizing?
CL:  I believe I do have more opportunities to lead causes and speak up for myself both in the identity of being black and being a woman.  I find that I do organize more strongly from my racial identity than my gender identity. Age only fits in the big table when experience and innovative organizing strategies come into play
TA: It’s impossible to pull those identities apart for me because they are all so interconnected. I think my role in life has always been as a conduit between communities and identities, and the same is true for my work in CAAMI. 
NJ: It’s hard to mesh my different identities. As a white person, I am very conscious of my role in relation to anti-racism. So sometimes I forget to integrate my feminism. Add to that my role as an elder, and it takes a lot of thoughtfulness to hold it all together!

YR: Does being multigenerational contribute to CAAMI’s long-term vision and sustainability?
CL:  I believe that CAAMI has a strong collective vision for long term goals and that it is in part because we are multigenerational.
TA: I believe multigenerational organizing is essential to the sustainability of CAAMI. I find that the younger people tend to want to move more quickly with organizing than the older folks in our group wish to, and it is the push and pull of this energy that will allow us to find the right pace to make our work last for the long haul.
NJ: It’s too soon to tell... 

This interview was originally conducted for Certain Days, a fundraising calendar of prisoner organizations in New York and elsewhere, due out in August 2016 and available for order at certaindays.org or via Certain Days c/o QPIRG Concordia, 1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. O., Montreal, QC H3G 1M8, Canada.


5Legislation : May 2016 Actions in the Assembly’s Correction Committee and the Senate’s Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections Committee.
Explanation: In bill numbers, S stands for Senate, A stands for Assembly. If a bill has a sponsor in both chambers we identify it with a slash mark between the two numbers (A.1234 / S.5678) and primary sponsors: (Kavanagh/Parker). For Assembly bills, the first name is the Assembly Member and for Senate bills the Senate sponsor is listed first.  If a bill is “reported” or “referred”, it means it passed out of the Committee to another committee (from where it may go to the entire House for a floor vote).   In short,  3rd Calendar and 3rd reading mean that the bill is in line to be presented to the full house.   Note:  Before any of these bills become law they have to be passed in both houses, where changes can be made from the floor before a final vote. If passed, the Governor has to sign them before they can become the law. 

SENATE BILLS  > May 5 2016:  Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Comm.
 Patrick Gallivan, Chair  
(Note: only 3 passed the Senate at this meeting)
*At this time not one of the C.J. bills reported has passed into law.

Bill # and Action
Sponsor/s
Purpose
S.992/A5548
Reported to Finance
Rivera/ Sepulveda  

Ensures due process for inmates whose first language is not English by providing a certified translator at parole board interviews and ensures deaf language interpreters for inmates who need one.
S.1483A/Uni.A.1680A
Reported to Finance
Lavalle/ Thiele 

Increases from twenty-four to sixty months, the time for which reconsideration for parole for a violent felony offense shall be determined.
S.1608A/A.1819A
Reported to Finance
Bonacic/Gunther

Defines "residence" for clarification in the sex offender registry law and directs the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to develop a notification procedure for mandatory reporting by offenders who have multiple residences.
S.1963/ no same as
Passed Senate
Robach

Limits eligibility for limited credit times allowances to those inmates having completed eighty percent of their original sentence.
S.2064B/no same as
Reported to Finance
Young
Limits temporary detention of defendants in violation of their release in a local correctional facility to 72 hours before transfer to state custody.
S.2394/A.781
Reported to Finance
Richie/ Gunther

Requires the commissioner of correctional services to enter into agreements to house local inmates to alleviate overcrowding in local correctional facilities
S.2950/A.752
Passed Senate
Murphy/Braunstein

Restricts sex offenders from residing within 1500 feet of their victim’s residence.
S.3223A/ no same as
Reported to Finance
Carlucci
Prohibits sex offenders from moving to a residence that is within 1000 feet of any functioning school building or in which child day care is provided, or a park.
S.4511/ no same as
Passed Senate
Lanza

Increases the in-person appearance requirements for level two sex offenders.
S.6222B/A.8625B
3rd reading
Richie/O’Donnell

Prohibiting civilian drone use within 1000 ft of a correctional facility
S.7191/A.9762
Reported to Finance

Gallavan/ Peoples-Stokes
Makes it possible for a Funeral Home or other business to be reimbursed by the Office of Victim Services for expenses the business has incurred for a deceased victim’s burial 
S.7252/A.9239
Reported to Finance
Ortt/ Englebright

Requires the division of criminal justice services to provide notice to the appropriate local police agency, within 48 hours, of the change of address, or the other information relating to a sex offender



SENATE BILLS  >  May 18:  Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee
 Patrick Gallivan, Chair  (Note: 6 bills passed in the Senate at this meeting.  
No bills passed in both houses.  

Bill # and Action
Primary Sponsor/s
Purpose
S.982/ A.1642
Referred to Finance


Montgomery/Wright
Authorizes a sentence of conditional discharge pending completion of a substance abuse treatment program for first and second time drug possessors, provided such offender has no prior violent felony convictions.
S.1959A/ A.112A
3rd reading

Robach/ Simanowitz 
Requires level three sex offenders who have committed a violent crime against a child to wear an electronic monitoring device for life.
S.2981/ same as A.889
5/25 passed Senate
 Ortt/ Miller  
Defines residency as any place of abode, domicile or inhabitance where a convicted sex offender spends or intends to spend more than two days a week.
S.3094/ same as A.5269
Reported to Finance 
Marchione/McDonald
Requires the department of corrections and community supervision to maintain the responsibility and costs of monitoring any person required to use an ignition device.
S.3622/ same as A.3912
5/25 passed Senate
 Ortt/ Hawley   
Authorizes law enforcement to disseminate a Level 2 sex offender’s place of employment address to vulnerable populations.
S.3627/same as A.9276
5/18 Reported to Finance
 Ortt/ Hawley  

Prohibits any sex offender from residing within a quarter mile of any school, playground, park or building in which child day care is provided.
S.4765/same as A.4987
5/25 passed Senate
Funke/ Simotas 

Makes the failure of a sex offender to appear at his or her registration determination hearing a class D felony
S.4776A/same as A.6019
5/25 passed Senate
Funke/Simotas 

Expands the amount of information available about registered sex offenders on the division of criminal justice services website.
S4890A/same as A7661
5/25 passed Senate
  Avella/  Ortiz  

Establishes a uniform standard for measuring and enforcing the 1,000 feet restriction between school grounds and sex offender residences.
S.4953/same as A.8678
3rd Reading

Venditto/  Thiele  

Increases the penalty for failing to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registry Act from a class A misdemeanor to a class D felony.
S.5000B/same as A.7409A
Reported to Finance
Golden/ Braunstein

Restricts a registered sex offender from residing within 1,000 feet of school grounds or a playground. 
S.5427A/same as A.7500
3rd reading

Rivera/ Joyner 

Requires DOCCS to be responsive to the next of kin or other designated person who inquires as to the circumstances surrounding the death of a prisoner, and to provide such person with an original preliminary death certificate
S.6066A/same as A8503
3rd reading
Venditto/ Murray

Allows local governments to place reasonable restrictions on where a sex offender is permitted to live.
S.6351/no same as
3rd reading
Murphy
This bill would require level one sex offenders to register with the Division of Criminal Justice Services for thirty years.
S.6689/no same as
Reported to Finance
Serino
Requires sex offenders to verify their residence and registration on a biannual basis.
S.7224/A.9696
Reported to Finance
Murphy/ DenDekker  

All current or prior crime victim's statements shall be provided to the parole board for their consideration at each board appearance to ensure that a victim or the victim's representative prior statements are considered at each parole hearing. This alleviates the victim from having to relive their traumatic experience every time a parole hearing is scheduled, while emphasizing that the impact of the parolees actions are not forgotten. Victim impact statements should have no expiration date.  Also ensures that transcripts of parole board interviews are promptly provided to any victim who has requested such a transcript.
S.7469/A.10106
5/25 Passed Senate
Ortt/ Hawley
Authorizes the Orleans county correctional facility to also be used for the detention of persons under arrest being held for arraignment in any court located in the county of Orleans

This legislative session, especially in the Senate, has been very disheartening with all its proposals for further punishing, if not torturing people, especially those convicted of sex crimes.  Without judging the seriousness of the crime, but simply looking at the moral and economic cost of some of the many mean-spirited bills we have reported on, it would seem that intelligent humans could better use their time to figure out somewhere for these unwanted citizens to live in peace, and where fearing citizens would be able to avoid running into them.  
Research reveals that once caught and punished most people who have committed sex crimes do not repeat their crimes.  Admittedly, that’s not popular knowledge and at any rate, not likely to be considered by a Parole Board which shows little concern for objective evidence, so it seems time for creative people to come up with more humane solutions.  
To escape into a fantasy world for a bit, your editor imagined finding empty acres in NYS’s least populated county and turning them over to these individuals  along with the tools and education to build themselves a place to live.  It couldn’t be more difficult than finding a space that meets the impossible requirements of the bills we’ve been reading month after month.  It couldn’t be more expensive than keeping them locked up until a place can finally be found.  
Housing, of course, is not the only obstacle the Senate would use to make life unbearable for sex offenders.
We look forward to a few months without the anguish of reporting on these offensive and heartless bills.  

We do want to applaud the few bills that are humane and would raise the moral standards of our legal system, and we urge our legislators to pass more of them....

ASSEMBLY BILLS  >May 10, Assembly Corrections Committee, 
AssemblyMember Daniel O’Donnell, Chair 
(Note: Two bills passed in this meeting of the Assembly)

Bill # and Action
Sponsor/s
Purpose
A.1346B/ S.5900A
3rd Reading
O’Donnell/Hassell-Thompson
Provides that inmates should only be kept in special housing units for the minimum period of time necessary to maintain institutional order and safety and prohibits the placement of juveniles, people with mental illness, developmentally disabled inmates and inmates with physical disabilities in solitary confinement.
A.4620/ S.985
Passed Assembly

Rozic/Montgomery
Allows state prison inmates entering solitary confinement in special housing units (SHU) to make a telephone call upon admission into SHU and at least once per month thereafter.
A.9805/ no same as
Passed Assembly
Richardson
Provides a certificate of relief from disabilities, or a certificate of good conduct if applicable, to a person granted merit termination of sentence and a certificate of relief from disabilities, or a certificate of good conduct if applicable, to a person granted discretionary three-year discharge from community supervision 
A.9939/ no same as
Reported to Ways and Means
O’Donnell
Creates the office of the correctional ombudsman.

A.9960/ no same as
3rd reading
O’Donnell
Provides that risk and needs principles "shall" be used by the Board as the basis for their determi-
nation as to whether or not an inmate can safely be released.  It also provides that the Board may override such risk assessment but must explain its reasons for doing so. The bill further specifies that the Board must promulgate rules and regulations reflecting this change in the law. Also permits inmates to correct verifiable factual mistakes or errors in their risk and needs assessments or other non-confidential documents given the Board prior to their appearances.




ASSEMBLY BILLS  >May 24, Assembly Corrections Committee, 
AM Daniel O’Donnell, Chair 
(Note: None passed in this meeting of the Assembly)

Bill # and Action
Sponsor/s
Purpose
A.158/ no same as
3rd reading
Rozic
Makes it unlawful for an employer to require a job applicant to disclose his or her criminal history record as a requirement for consideration of employment. 
A.2186/no same as
Referred to Codes
O’Donnell
Requires the parole board to grant parole to inmates who successfully participate in a temporary release program for two years without interruption immediately prior to appearance before the board.
A.4256/ S.1017
Referred to Ways and Means
 Gottfried/ Montgomery 

Directs the commissioner of corrections and community supervision to develop programs in correctional facilities to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases
A.7217A/S.3388
Referred to Codes
Cusick/Lanza
Requires that local law enforcement be notified when a person is delinquent in reporting to their parole officer and that such law enforcement agency apprehend the absconder.
A.7363/ S.3817
Reported to Rules
O'Donnell /Hassell-Thompson
Requires that rehabilitation programs for female inmates in state correctional facilities be equivalent to those provided to male inmates elsewhere in the state.
A.8596A/ S.6088A
Reported to Codes

Woerner/ LITTLE  

Authorizes the Washington and Essex county correctional facilities to also be used for the detention of persons under arrest being held for arraignment in any court located in each such county.
A.9124A/ S6349A
Reported to Ways and Means
Sepulveda/ Carlucci
Requires DOCCS to examine,evaluate and make recommendations on the current sanctions placed by the state and local social services districts on individual's re-entry planning including but not limited to: Housing; Medical; Mental health coun-seling; Substance abuse and addiction services; Employment; Benefits programs; and Childcare Services.
A.9369/ Uni. S.6849
Reported to Codes
 Butler/ Farley  
Relates to authorizing the Fulton county correctional facility to also be used for the detention of persons under arrest being held for arraignment in any court located in the county of Fulton.
A.10106/ no same as
Reported to Codes
Hawley
Authorizing the Orleans county correctional facility to also be used for the detention of persons under arrest being held for arraignment in any court located in the county of Orleans
A.7634/ S.2023A
Reported to Rules
O’Donnell/ Hassell-Thompson
Restores voting rights to parolees, to facilitate community reintegration and participation in the civic process, rather than requiring a parolee to wait until he or she has been discharged from parole or reached the maximum expiration date of the sentence.

(Thanks to Senator Danny O’Donnell for understanding and trying.)



6.  Immersion East Side
by Karima Amin

Just about a year ago, I became acquainted with Canisius College’s Immersion East Side Ignatian Seminar though meeting Dr. Devonya Havis, an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Canisius. At the forefront of this immersion project, Dr. Havis and her colleagues “inspire and challenge students to experience solidarity with persons who have been marginalized by unjust institutions, economic conditions, and social and political structures.” In the past, these white, suburban students spent time exploring Buffalo’s East Side, through visiting churches, restaurants, performance venues, etc. and talking to community leaders to gain a better sense of the “rites, rituals, and celebrations” that have helped to shape the lives of a people who have been routinely marginalized and criminalized in Buffalo for decades.  This year, according to Dr. Havis, one area of focus will be criminal justice and its associated issues.

I am a native Buffalonian. Since the 1950’s, I have watched my city rise and decline with my East Side community barely managing to thrive. At the May meeting of PRISONERS ARE PEOPLE TOO, INC., I talked about the organization’s beginnings and mission, successes and disappointments.  One guest speaker told about the history of Buffalo in general and the history of Black Buffalo specifically. Another guest speaker shared her life story, one defined by poverty, troubled teen years, drug addiction, incarceration, release, successful reintegration, education, and leadership. The Immersion students from Canisius joined us.     
For more information: Karima Amin, karima@prisonersarepeopletoo.org, 716-834-8438; BaBa Eng, g.babaeng@yahoo.com, 716-491-5319.



7.  National Re-entry Month
By Corey Parks
June has been declared National Reentry Month. Unlike some notable holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July, this is a month-long  reminder to millions of families that one day they or a loved one may experience prison.  With this reality in the minds of many affected by this explosive truth, we constantly need stories of survival from those who made a notably successful reentry.  
Once known as inmate number 446/64, Nelson Mandela was a former apartheid revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist.  Because of his efforts to fight against apartheid he was arrested in 1962 and on June 12th, 1964 he was given a life sentence.  He served 27 years in Robben Island, a prison in South Africa.  While in prison Mandela continued to fight against injustices, such as prison rules that were unfair, and so he spent a great deal of his time in solitary confinement.  In 1980 Mandela’s former law partner started a movement to free Mandela.  Around the same time many countries were imposing sanctions on South Africa for its apartheid policies. President P.W. Botha, who supported this movement, offered to release Mandela on the condition that he renounce violence.  Mandela refused saying ‘’Prisoners cannot enter into contracts, only free men can negotiate.”  In 1989 F.W. da Klerk became president and began to dismantle apartheid policies.  He released Mandela on February 12, 1990.  
At that time I was ten years old and well on my way to a life of crime, and in 1998 I was given my own state numbers 98A4404.  I was, and still am, inspired by Mandela. Like Mandela’s story my reentry started in the various prison cells that we both found ourselves living in over a period of time.  My mission is similar to his;  I’ve worked for a productive reentry and a road to redemption. Mandela became president of South Africa, the same country that had imprisoned him for twenty seven years.  Now the story can be yours.  I want you to tap into your personal greatness and figure out your next great move before you are released. Speak it into existence and the Most High will see you through. 
Congratulations in advance, for your productive reentry!!   ~ Corey      

[You can reach me at:  Success Is A Journey Inc.  P.O. Box 263  Bronx NY 10458.]





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