Building Bridges

The monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network

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Sunday, June 04, 2017

June 2017

Welcome to the site of Building Bridges, Prison Action Network's newsletter   If you would like to receive a copy in your email in-box every month, please send a note with the reason for your interest.


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 2017 newsletter.



Posted 6.19.17




EVENT DETAILS


Dearly Beloved Friends (and foes of the IDC) – You are invited to JOIN US for a New Orleans Style FUNERAL MARCH in ALBANY on the last day of the legislative session to mourn the death of progressive legislation in New York State at the hands of the Independent Democratic Conference. EIGHT SENATORS who were voted in as DEMOCRATS but align with the GOP giving Republicans leadership and control of the Senate (even though the majority of NYS Senators are DEMOCRATS).
MARCH with MUSICIANS as we follow pall bearers & COFFIN as it winds outside the state CAPITOL and HEAR inspiring EULOGIES commemorating the
BILLS whose lives were sadly cut short in the Senate. 
It will be a MEANINGFUL and SPIRITED event, capping a long and frustrating season of advocacy by so many groups trying to move our great state forward despite GOP control of our senate thanks to those eight turncoat Democrats in the IDC.
Wear black, carry a parisol/umbrella and embrace the jazz funeral spirit
as we mourn what COULD HAVE BEEN.
This action is co-sponsored by the Rockland Citizens Action Network, Indivisible Rivertowns, True Blue NY, NoIDCNY, NYPAN, Alliance for Quality Education, Lower Hudson Valley Progressive Action Network, & Citizens Action 
Please RSVP Here https://goo.gl/forms/DE0z5wruBW67pQsf1 we’re trying to coordinate transport from NYC, Rockland & Westchester.
Building Bridges June 2017

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Dear Reader,  Dare to dream of a better world, and then dare to believe it’s possible.  It is possible only if you live it.  There’s no other way.   Your Editor

Table of Contents

  1. April Parole Board release rates
  2. Mujahid Farid Commentary,  
  3. Judy Clark’s daughter speaks out. 
4. NYS Senate passed a bill that would change 2 year hits to 5 year hits for A1VOs.     

5. NetWORKS reports on Albany’s Day of Action for Parole and Prison Justice. 

6. Legislators vote 46 bills out of committee. 

7. Life Stories are part of Restoring Justice in Buffalo.

8. List of ALL NYS prisons and the numbers of people released from each by the Parole Board.  


1.  Parole News - Release Rates for A1VO offenses 
PAROLE BOARD RELEASES - A1 VIOLENT FELONS DIN #s through 2001  
unofficial research from parole database
April 2017 - A1VO Interview Summaries
Type
Total
# Released
# Denied
Rate of Release
Year to Date Release Rate
Initials 
13
4
9
31%
32%
Reappearances
80
29
51
36%
35%
Total 
93
33
60
35%
34%
two de novos released; one released

April 2017 - A1VO Initial Releases by Facility

Albion-female     Deport
52
34
20-Life
Mrd 2 
1
Otisville
46
22
25-Life
Mrd 2 
1
Woodbourne
50
31
20-Life
Mrd 2 
1
Wyoming
41
19
23-LIfe
Mrd 2 
1


April 2017 - A1VO Reappearance Releases by Facility
Facility
Age at Hearing
Age at Commitment
Sentence
Offense 
# of Board
Bare hill
41
21
20-Life
Mrd2
2
Cayuga
53
20
25-Life
Mrd2
5
Eastern
57
18
25-Life
Mrd2
9
Fishkill
52
35
15-Life
Mrd2
3
Fishkill
56
23
25-Life
Mrd2
6
Fishkill
53
28
25-Life
Mrd2
2
Fishkill
52
28
25-Life
Mrd2
2
Fishkill
43
23
20-Life
Mrd2
2
Franklin
37
19
5-Life
JO Mrd1
10
Green haven.  Deport
61
24
25-Life
Mrd2
15
Green haven
53
21
25-Life
Mrd2
5
Green haven.  Parole Violation
62
33
28-Life
Mrd2
7
Midstate
67
37
25-Life
Mrd2
9
Mohawk
61
35
25-Life
Mrd2
2
Otisville
55
24
18-Life
Mrd2
8
Otisville
45
19
27-Life
Mrd2
4
Otisville
44
21
18-Life
Mrd2
5
Otisville.  Parole Violation
48
26
25-Life
Mrd2
3
Shawangunk.  Deport
62
20
25-Life
Pre 74 Mrd
11
Shawangunk
47
22
25-Life
Mrd2
2
Sing sing
46
26
19-Life
Mrd2
2
Sing sing
38
19
17-Life
Mrd2
3
Ulster
43
22
20-Life
Mrd2
2
Ulster
39
21
15-Life
Mrd2
4
Woodbourne
49
26
20-Life
Mrd2
3
Woodbourne
47
30
17-Life
Mrd2
2
Woodbourne
61
41
15-Life
Mrd2
4
Woodbourne
46
28
15-Life
Mrd2
4
Wyoming
75
54
20-Life
Mrd2
2


April 2017 - A1VOs Over 60 - Summary of decisions
Age Range
Total
# Released
 # Denied
Release Rate
Year to Date Release Rate
60-69
75
17
58
30%
23%
70-79
31
7
24
17%
23%
80+
1
0
1
0%
0%
Total
107
24
83
26%
22%


April 2017 -  A1VO Age at time of Commitment - Summary
Age Range
Total 
Released
Denied 
Release Rate % 
Year to Date Release Rates
16-20
19
7
12
37%
49%
21-25
31
11
20
35%
33%
25+
42
15
27
36%
30%
Total
92
33
59
36%
35%
one age unknown

Release Rates for ALL Parole Applicants (including A1VOs)
April 2017 - Summary of ALL Parole Releases (including A1VOs)  Includes Merit time cases

Type of Release
Total 
# Released
# Denied
Rate of Release
Year To Date Releases
Initials
414
106
308
26%
27%
All other decisions
436
167
269
38%
39%
Total
850
273
577
32%
32%

Decisions at All NYS Prisons for All Parole Applicants are on Back Page

By Mujahid Farid, Commentary.  [Mujahid Farid is lead organizer for the Release Aging People in Prison campaign.]
N.Y. must lift punitive practices of state's parole board
Published 3:35 pm, Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Across the nation there is growing concern that much of the progress made in the past five years educating the federal government on the harms associated with mass incarceration will be significantly turned back. Donald Trump's ascension to the presidency fuels that concern. 
However, Trump's counter-progressive platform does not have the power to silence a movement whose time has come. Because the vast majority of incarcerated individuals are in state prison systems, not the federal system, the primary focal point for challenging mass incarceration must be at the local and state level, and at policies championed by so-called progressive politicians that long precede Trump.
Nationwide and local coalitions of formerly incarcerated men and women have been pushing a bold vision for justice and transformation for decades. Notably, in New York state, organizations and groups have been hard at work, creating and developing coalitions and coming out of their silos to address the crisis of a punishment paradigm that has threatened the health and well-being of New Yorkers and their families and communities since the Rockefeller administration.
Today, groups like the Challenging Incarceration Coalition, which is made up of more than 60 organizations and issue-based campaigns, are demanding that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and leaders of the state Legislature join the movement to transform New York's racist carceral state and the rise of the newly emboldened conservative right by championing policy that ends mass incarceration, state violence and torture, racism and identity-based oppression, and empowers all New Yorkers, not just those who are convicted of nonviolent drug offenses.
As a start, the governor could take steps to uproot the punitive practices of the state Board of Parole, which continues to annually deny release to thousands of people — many of whom are elders — despite the incredible extent to which they have transformed over time.
I myself was denied by the board nine times, adding an extra 18 years to my original 15 years-to-life sentence, despite having already earned four college degrees — two bachelor's and two master's — before my first interview with the board.
To continue to deny people parole based on one immutable factor — the nature of the original offense — without regard for their life-changing transformations, is to follow the lead of the new president, not combat him. State and local organizations and individuals will not abandon inclusive reform efforts until the governor and Legislature act accordingly by changing the composition of the Board of Parole; passing the Safe and Fair Evaluations Parole Act (A.4353/S.3095A) which, among other things, requires that incarcerated people who are denied parole be told what corrective actions they need to take; and championing incarceration-related policy that ensures New York remains a steadfast leader in the dawn of a new and uncertain day.
The on-the-ground work being done by organizers and advocates on the state and local levels will not be uprooted by a new presidential administration, but it remains to be seen whether it will be embraced by the governor and his peers.
If the elected leaders of our state wish to rout the rise of the nationally occupying radical right, then they must join the local movement seeking to penetrate its punitive roots.


New York Times: The Opinion Pages | LETTERS.   Embracing Rehabilitation
To the Editor:
about my mother, Judith Clark, who has been in prison for 35 years for her role as a getaway driver in the fatal 1981 robbery of a Brink’s armored car, Jim Dwyer quotes the Parole Board’s statement that my mother is “a symbol of violent and terroristic crime.”

But parole decisions that refuse to take rehabilitation into account are their own kind of violence and create their own kind of terror. “I am someone,” my mother says, “who once believed in violence and now believes in respecting human life.”

New York’s Parole Board members, who consistently refuse to release people they acknowledge are rehabilitated and low-risk, show no such respect for human life.

My mother says in the column that people in prison want to believe that “what we do wrong matters, and that what we do right matters.” What the Parole Board does matters, too — to people inside and their loved ones outside, and it should matter to everyone concerned about this country’s epidemic of excessive and inhumane incarceration.

HARRIET CLARK, OAKLAND, CALIF.  A version of this letter appears in print on May 16, 2017, on Page A26 of the New York edition with the headline: Embracing Rehabilitation.


2.  Senate Bill # S2997-A: 
This bill increases from 2 years to 5 years between parole hearings for people with violent felony convictions. The bill was introduced to the Senate for a vote in May;  44 voted in favor, 18 voted against it. Keep in mind it only passed in the NY Senate and would need the Assembly to pass it also and the Gov. to sign it in order to become law. 
Here are how the Senators voted.  You might want to tell your senator what you think about his or her vote.


Exc
   Addabbo
Aye
   Akshar
Nay
   Alcantara
Aye
   Amedore
Aye
   Avella
Nay
   Bailey
Aye
   Bonacic
Aye
   Boyle
Nay
   Breslin
Aye
   Brooks
Aye
   Carlucci
Nay
   Comrie
Aye
   Croci
Aye
   DeFrancisco
Aye
   Diaz
Nay
   Dilan
Aye
   Felder
Aye
   Flanagan
Aye
   Funke
Aye
   Gallivan
Nay
   Gianaris
Aye
   Golden
Aye
   Griffo
Nay
   Hamilton
Aye
   Hannon
Aye
   Helming
Nay
   Hoylman
Aye
   Jacobs
Aye
   Kaminsky
Aye
   Kennedy
Aye
   Klein
Nay
   Krueger
Aye
   Lanza
Aye
   Larkin
Aye
   Latimer
Aye
   LaValle
Aye
   Little
Aye
   Marcellino
Aye
   Marchione
Nay
   Montgomery
Aye
   Murphy
Aye
   O'Mara
Aye
   Ortt
Nay
   Parker
Nay
   Peralta
Nay
   Persaud
Aye
   Phillips
Aye
   Ranzenhofer
Aye
   Ritchie
Nay
   Rivera
Aye
   Robach
Nay
   Sanders
Aye
   Savino
Aye
   Serino
Nay
   Serrano
Aye
   Seward
Nay
   Squadron
Aye
   Stavisky
Nay
   Stewart-Cousins
Aye
   Tedisco
Aye
Velesky
Aye 
Young







3.  NetWORKS, the monthly column of the New York State Prisoner Justice Network
Dear Readers, Apologies for missing our monthly column in May. Your reporter, along with many other activists and organizers, was busy bringing hundreds of people from all over New York State to Albany for a Day of Advocacy and Action for Parole and Prison Justice on May 10th.
By all accounts it was a great day that moved our movement forward toward our goals of ending mass incarceration and bringing about a fair parole system. 
Several hundred advocates, activists, formerly incarcerated people, and family members of currently incarcerated people came from all regions of the state. Three busloads came from New York City. People came by bus, car, and van from Buffalo, Rochester, the North Country, the Southern Tier/Binghamton, Ithaca, Albany, Troy, Schenectady, Newburgh, Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Woodstock, Westchester, and Long Island. They came for a day packed with activity: breakfast and inspiration to start with; legislative lobbying in the morning; a rally at lunchtime; a march around and through the Capitol; a speakout on the Capitol’s famous Million Dollar Staircase; and a networking reception to close the day.
The purpose: to promote major changes in the criminal legal system in New York State across multiple issues, especially focused on parole reform and the SAFE Parole Act; to educate policymakers, the media, and the public about parole and the other injustices of the prison system and fight to change it; and to get to know each other across the regions and issues of New York State in order to build a powerful, irresistible statewide movement against mass incarceration and the cruelty of the parole board.
The May 10th Day of Action was a serious step forward toward those goals. The lobby teams were outstandingly effective, with leaders and team members well prepared and knowledgeable about parole justice and the SAFE Parole Act.  The rally speakers were moving, energetic, and informative and they all expressed an iron determination to win. The rally was introduced by a spectacular musical and spoken word presentation by the Arts in Action Committee of Capital Area Against Mass Incarceration, quoting directly from writers behind prison walls. Soffiyah Elijah, long-time multi-issue activist, organization leader, and attorney delivered a keynote address advancing our movement toward victory. The speakers included formerly incarcerated individuals, family members of people incarcerated, elected officials, advocates, and community members. There was media coverage in which several of these same powerful speakers presented the case for change. 
The rally was followed by a lively and very noisy march around and through the New York State Capitol led by a high-spirited radical marching band called the Rude Mechanical Orchestra. The march wound up at the Million Dollar Staircase, where people spoke and sang their own truths in the halls of power. And finally, tired but satisfied participants gathered at a nearby church to eat pizza, mingle with each other, debrief, and talk about the successes of the day and the challenges yet to come.
As a result of the day’s efforts several new legislators signed on as sponsors of the SAFE Parole Act, with others promising to take a closer look, and follow-up yet to come to make sure they do what they said they would do.
Our appreciation to all the legislative sponsors of the SAFE Parole Act: Senators Parker, Alcantara, Bailey, Comrie, Kennedy, Montgomery, Rivera, Sanders, and Serrano; new: Breslin, Hamilton, Krueger, Lentol, Savino. Assembly members Aubry, Arroyo, Barrett, Barron, Crespo, Fahy, Farrell, Gottfried, Hevesi, McDonald, Montesano, Mosley, O’Donnell, Ortiz, Perry, Rodriguez, Sepulveda, Simon, Skartados;  new: Davila, Pichardo, Peoples-Stokes, Rosenthal. [Lentol’s name and emphasis added by editor.]
But our greatest appreciation goes to all the hardworking organizers who made the day happen, and all the passionate activists who lobbied and marched and chanted with all their hearts. At the end of the day, we all vowed to go home and keep right on keeping on until the terrible system of mass incarceration is dismantled, the parole board is forced to be accountable to the people, and real community justice and wellbeing prevail. May 10th was a big step on that road.

4.  Legislative report
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 body for a floor vote).  3rd reading means it’s getting close to being voted on by the entire house. Before any of these bills become law they have to be passed in both houses, the Senate and the Assembly.  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.
May 16: 13 bills were passed by the Assembly’s Corrections Committee  -  Weprin, Chair
Bill Number
Primary Sponsor/s
Purpose
A.1272/ S.3727
3rd Reading
Roczic/Montgomery
Requires DOCCS to place incarcerated parents at correctional institutions and facilities closest to their children's home.
A.2144/ S.3351
3rd Reading
Sepulveda/Bailey
Defines "direct relationship" for the purposes of article 23-A of the correction law regarding the licensure and employment of persons previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses.
A.3820/ S.6163
Reported to Ways and Means
Walker/Hamilton
Directs DOCCS to conduct a pilot program to test the benefits of allowing inmates the use of tablets that are secure-email enabled and which also provide educational and recreational software. 
A.7568/ S.5407
3rd Reading
Weprin/Gallivan
Updates internal citations and outdated references to the Division of Parole (the "Division") within Article 12-B of the Executive Law with references to the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (the "Department" or "DOCCS"), the Board of Parole (the "Board"), or the "former Division", as appropriate.
A.7569/ S.5430
3rd Reading

Weprin/Gallivan
Authorizes the Office of Mental Health (OMH) to enter into an agreement with a sheriff's department to permit the relevant public safety officials to transfer custody of an inmate to an OMH secure facility while such inmate receives mental health treatment.
A.7576/ No same as
3rd Reading
Wright
Allows inmates who obtain a college degree to earn limited credit time allowance.
A.7605/ No same as
3rd Reading
Davila
To permit parolees who are gainfully employed to attend required programs outside of their work hours.
A.7673/ No same as
Reported to Ways and Means
Sepulveda
The reentry for the elderly program established by this bill should increase the rate of successful reintegration while providing a more humane approach to returning elderly and geriatric persons to society after incarceration.
A.7676/ No same as
Referred to Ways and Means
Gjonaj
Makes telephone services available for the deaf in every state and local correctional facility.
A.7687/ S.5987
Referred to Ways and Means
Weprin/Gallivan
To conduct a study regarding parole officer staffing to determine adequate staffing.
A.2471/ S.4891
*Passed the Assembly
REFERRED TO CRIME VICTIMS, CRIME AND CORRECTION

Sepulveda/Diaz
Provides that the parole board shall publish demographic data including race, ethnicity, region of commitment and other relevant data regarding the persons it considers for release in its statutorily required annual report to the governor and the legislature.
A.3053/ S.3982
*Passed the Assembly
REFERRED TO CRIME VICTIMS, CRIME AND CORRECTION

Weprin/Montgomery
Provides that the parole board shall publish appeal decisions on a web site within 60 days, create an annual index of such decisions, make copies available and redact confidential information from such decisions prior to publication.
A.1907/S.4061
3rd Reading
O’Donnell/Lanza
This bill prohibits the placement of inmates under the age of eighteen in solitary confinement.



Updates (in Italics) on Assembly Bills passed earlier in the session by the Correction Committee:

Bill Number
Primary Sponsor/s
Purpose
A.1730 / S.5682
3rd Reading in both houses
Mosley/Hamilton
Allows telephone calls - within 24 hrs. - for inmates after transfer to new correctional facilities.
A.1776/S.3396
3rd Reading in Assembly
CVCC Referred to Finance
Joyner/Parker
Authorizes a study by the department of corrections and community supervision pertaining to the treatment of aging prison populations. 
A.2534/ S.3498
Referred to Ways and Means
Reported by CVCC (Crime Victims Crime and Corrections) to Finance
Roczic/Bailey
Requires rehabilitation programs for females in state correctional facilities be equivalent to those provided to males in correctional facilities elsewhere in the state; such  programs shall include, but not be limited to, vocational, academic and industrial programs.
A.2471/ S.4891
Passed in Assembly
Referred to CVCC
Sepulveda/ Diaz
Directs the Board of Parole to add to their annual report the demographic data of persons considered for release.
A.3053 / S.3982. Vetoed last year by Cuomo. Passed Assembly  in May ‘17;  has been reported by CVCC to Finance
Weprin/ Montgomery
This bill directs the Board of Parole to publish its appeal decisions on a public website and create an annual index of such decisions so that the public and concerned citizens can have access to the body of decisions that informs the Board's practice.
A.6353-B/ S. 5494-A
3rd reading
Weprin /Gallivan
Requires that an inmate who has appeared before the board of parole prior to having completed one or more programs required by the department of corrections and community supervision, and has been denied release, shall be immediately placed into the required program/s. 



Senate May 16:  27 bills were passed by the Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee.  
Bill Number
Primary Sponsor/s
Purpose 
S.215/ No same as
Reported to Finance
Marchione
Requires legislative approval for the closure of correctional facilities and institutions. 
S.296/A.1181
3rd Reading
 Robach/Simanowitz  

Requires any level three sex offender who has committed a violent crime against a child to wear an electronic monitoring device for life; provides that such sex offender shall bear the cost of such device. 
S.1006/ No same as
3rd Reading
Robach
Provides clarity to organizations responsible for ensuring the information
on the sex registry is up to date.
S.1498/ No same as
3rd Reading
Robach
Relates to limiting eligibility for limited credit times allowances to those inmates having completed eighty percent of their original sentence. 
S.1628/A. 2978
Reported to Finance
Golden/Abbate
Gives the NYC Commissioner of Correction the ability to transfer inmates
who have been disciplined for violent offenses to State correctional facility
S.2170/No same as
Passed Senate
Referred to Correction
Serino
Prohibits an individual who is a convicted sex offender from working or volunteering in a position where they would have unsupervised access to residential living quarters.
S.2173/ No same as
Reported to Finance
Serino
To increase the number of times a sex offender has to verify their
registration with the Division of Criminal Justice Services.
S.2595/ No same as
3rd Reading
Ranzenhofer
Provides that any person who knowingly harbors a sex offender who has failed to register or verify, and has not notified law enforcement, shall be guilty of an A misdemeanor.
S.2819/A.3159
Reported to Finance
Lanza/Cusick
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 to protect the public from being harmed from the felons.
S.2949/A.4064-B  
Reported to Finance
Ritchie/Jones
To ensure adequate staffing at correctional facilities

S.3027/A.4762
Passed Senate
Referred to Correction
Ranzenhofer/Kearns
Prohibits sex offenders from residing in community homes

S.3030/ No same as
3rd reading
Helming
Increase the penalty for failing to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registry Act to a class D felony. The bill would also increase the penalty for a sex offender who works on an ice cream truck to a class D felony.
S.3396/A.1776
Reported to Finance
Parker/Joyner
Authorizes a study by the New York State DOCCS of the treatment of 
aging prison populations and make recommendations for ensuring
humane treatment of such populations.
S.3498/A.2534
Reported to Finance
Bailey/Rozic
Assuring rehabilitation programs for female inmates are equivalent to
programs afforded male inmates.
S.4059/A.6581
Reported to Finance
Lanza/Cusick
Requires websites providing sex offender registry information to be searchable by the zip code of a registrant's employment. 
S.4061/A.1907
Reported to Finance
Lanza/O’Donnell
Prohibits the placement of inmates under the age of eighteen in solitary confinement.
S.4795/A.1610
Reported to Finance
Lanza/Rosic
To exclude pregnant prisoners from solitary confinement in New York
correctional facilities.
S.5250/A.6294
3rd reading
Helming/Finch
To provide protections for mentally disabled persons by prohibiting sex
offenders from residing in a community residence.
S.5321/No same as
3rd reading
Murphy
Prohibits registered sex offenders from using the internet to access pornographic material, commercial social networking websites, communicating with other individuals or groups for the purpose of promoting sexual relations with persons under the age of eighteen
S.5408/A.7281
Reported to Finance
Gallivan/Peoples-Stokes
Expands the list of enumerated, surviving family members eligible for
reimbursement of crime scene cleanup expenses when a victim/family
member is killed in a shared residence.
S.5409/ No same as
No status available
Gallivan
Allows county jails to contract with medical professional corporations for the provision of inmate health care services.
S.5430/A7569
3rd reading
Gallivan /Weprin
Authorizes the Office of Mental Health (OMH) to enter into an agreement with a sheriff's department to permit the relevant public safety officials to transfer custody of an inmate to an OMH secure facility while such inmate receives mental health treatment.
S.5494-A/6353-B
Reported to Finance
Gallivan/Weprin
Provides that inmates will be placed in assigned programs as soon as possible and, if denied parole release because they have not finished such programs, be prioritized for immediate placement into such program.
S.5682/A.1730
3rd Reading
Hamilton/Mosley
Allows anyone transferred to a new correctional facility to call their family within 24 hours of arriving at the new facility.
S.5701-a /A.7527
Reported to Finance
Hamilton/Crespo
To conduct a pilot program placing certain inmates in facilities closer
to the communities where their children reside.
S.5894/A.7675
3rd Reading
Gallivan/Weprin
Extends the expiration date to September 1, 2020 to continue to authorize local correctional facilities to enter into contracts for the purpose of boarding-in certain inmates from other states' local
correctional facilities.
S.5987/A.7687
Reported to Finance
Gallivan/Weprin
Authorize a study regarding parole officer staffing, which must include
consideration of national standards, to determine adequate staffing

Each month as your editor posts the bills that have passed through the Senate’s Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections Committee, I wonder why the fixation on sex offenders?   It’s as if the legislators want to send sex offenders to Hell for Life, and indeed their bills would do that.  There must be a better way.  If only they proposed bills that offered solutions that healed rather than those that torture.



5.  “Life Stories: Restoring Justice” A Success!  (speaking of solutions that heal.  ed.)
by Karima Amin

For the last two years, I have been trying to figure out a way to link activism with art. I knew that there must be a way to show on stage, that storytelling could work with activism. From the day that Prisoners Are People Too, Inc. was launched, it has provided a platform for formerly incarcerated people and their loved ones to tell their stories. Guest speakers delivered some of these stories, while others came unsolicited from the hearts and mouths of audience members who could no longer keep silent.
I wanted “Life Stories: Restoring Justice” to provide an opportunity for the community to hear stories from three women who turned to restorative thinking and behaviors after losing loved ones to gun violence. I wanted the audience to have a better understanding of the value and benefits of restorative justice. As these women told their stories, and a talk-back that allowed the audience to share their feelings, the spiritual energy and emotion in the room was palpable. Tears flowed, people sighed, bodies rocked and unexpected stories came from the audience as “Life Stories: Restoring Justice” became a vehicle for healing. 
Angela Woodson-Brice’s poem, “Beacon of Hope,” closing the event out, was a salute to the mothers and others who grieve; and a reminder to say the names of the children, gone but not forgotten; and a thank-you to the activists who work unceasingly in the name of Restorative Justice.  
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Also from Karima Amin: It’s June Again!  A year ago I wrote about this being a month of celebrations, graduations, weddings, family reunions, my birthday (June 1), BaBa’s homecoming (June 2013), Juneteenth, our Ma’afa (formally honoring our Ancestors),  “Git on da Bus” (our annual Storytelling Crawl), Bro. Gerrod Bennett’s release from prison (June 2016)…
I could go on and on about June but we have some May business to speak about. On May 10, we went to Albany with a contingent of activists, from Buffalo and Rochester, to speak truth to power at the Legislative Office Building. With hundreds of others from organizations and campaigns from across the State, Prisoners Are People Too, Inc. and Burning Books Independent Bookstore, we were united in our call for parole reform, releasing aging people from prison (R.A.P.P.), ending prisoner abuse (e.g. solitary confinement) and more. 
This was a “Lobby Day.” We participated in a full day of rallies, speak-outs, networking and meetings with our State Legislators. We personally thanked those who support prison reform and, using data and personal stories, we encouraged the naysayers to consider bills that fight mass incarceration. Our Program Director, BaBa Eng, was invited to speak out at a rally at West Capitol Park. Later, in the State Capitol Building, he was urged to share his words again on parole reform and restorative justice.
More information:  Karima Amin, 716-834-8438, karima@prp2.org
BaBa Eng, 716-491-5319, g.babaeng@gmail.com.





All NYS Prisons with the numbers of parole applicants released from each:

Facility
Released
Denied
Adirondack
2
6
Albion W-R
2
0
Albion-female
27
26
Altona
4
11
Attica
1
10
Auburn
1
7
Bare Hill
5
17
Bedford Hill
10
10
Cape Vincent
5
6
Cayuga
8
11
Clinton
3
17
Collins
6
14
Coxsackie
1
10
Downstate
4
15
Eastern NY
1
1
Elmira
1
1
Fishkill
14
14
Five Points
1
14
Franklin
7
7
Gouverneur
2
10
Gowanda
14
31
Gowanda - SOP
2
6
Gt Meadow
0
0
Green Haven
6
5
Groveland
1
17
Hale Creek ASAC
2
1
Hudson
3
2
Lakeview
1
2
Lincoln
5
2
Livingston
3
11
Marcy
8
13
Marcy-ASACTC
1
0
Midstate
9
21
Mohawk
16
26
Ogdensburg
1
6
Orleans
3
14
Other Agency
0
4
Otisville
11
8
Riverview
3
7
Rochester
1
1
Shawangunk
3
3
Sing Sing
4
3
Southport
0
7
Sullivan
2
5
Taconic-ASACTC
1
0
Taconic - female
6
5
Ulster
22
26
Upstate
0
16
Wallkill
1
7
Walsh Medical Ctr
1
3
Washington
6
14
Watertown
2
9
Wende
1
3
Woodbourne
12
7
Wyoming
14
19
TOTALS
283
569

Percentage of releases: 32%

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