Building Bridges

The monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Parole Policies Letter to Candidates

Anyone who would like copies of the following to mail out to the individual Candidates running for NYS Governor: Spitzer, Suozzi, Weld, Faso, please let Kathy know and she will e-mail these to you.  Anyone who would like their name added please send her your full name, city and state.  For those who are from out of state just list the city where your loved one is incarcerated.
Here is the copy of what will be sent to each candidate.  Please respond directly to

We, the members of the Coalition of Families of New York State Lifers (CFNYSL), represent over 13,000 families who struggle daily with the burden of having a loved one incarcerated in the state of New York with the word life in their sentence.

We are concerned with the parole commission’s stance as it now stands and with your plans for the commission if you become governor. As you are no doubt aware, the parole boards routinely denies parole to eligible men and women with good records and many years of incarceration because of “the severity of instant offense.” Unfortunately, this creates a sense of hopelessness since the nature of the crime is the one thing that can never be changed.
Many of our loved ones have served far over the 15, 20 or 25 years their minimum sentence called for.  Many have completed all the programs that DOCS has to offer and are just being warehoused for the political benefit of our current administration.
Statistics show that the current administration has managed to control the parole board and to cause men and women sentenced when parole was a realistic prospect, to be constantly re-sentenced to longer and longer terms in prison. We hope that if you become Governor, you will actively seek to reestablish fairness in parole board behavior. We want you to be smart on crime, but keeping an aging population in prison long past their eligibility for parole is not accomplishing that. It is simply ruining family’s lives, creating a sense of hopelessness in men and women who believed they needed to reform and redeem their lives; and echoes vast injustices from the very system that theoretically delivers justice to ALL its citizens.

We seek your response to these concerns prior to our having to make a decision in the voting booth in November.

Thank you.