Building Bridges

The monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network

Translate this page:

Thursday, April 30, 2009

MAY 2009

Please scroll down to read the May edition of Building Bridges. The following are latebreaking notices received since the newsletter was last published:



POSTED MAY 26: by Prison Action Network
NY Times features PAN member, Joseph Hayden

Joseph "Jazz" Hayden is a vital resource to our cause. His news organization, Still Here Harlem Productions, filmed our 4th Family Empowerment Day last October 2008, and made it available on his website, http://allthingsharlem.com where you can view many other deeply moving stories not reported elsewhere.

On May 18th the NY Times featured Jazz and his work in their NY Region Section with a detailed story of his journey from a criminal past to a career in video journalism. Read it here.



POSTED MAY 22: From the Governor's website [http://www.state.ny.us/governor/press/press_0522096.html]
GOVERNOR PATERSON ANNOUNCES NOMINATION TO THE STATE BOARD OF PAROLE

Governor David A. Paterson today announced the nomination of Andrea D. Evans as Chair of the State Board of Parole. As Chair, Ms. Evans will also serve as Chief Executive Officer of the Division.

Ms. Evans is the current Director of the Division of Parole for Region II, an area encompassing Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. In this position, she oversees the operation of four Area Offices, including one located in the Queensboro Correctional Facility. Prior to this role, Ms. Evans served as Deputy Regional Director for Region I, where she managed the operation of five field offices in Bronx County.

From 2000 to 2006, Ms. Evans served as Special Assistant to the Downstate Director of Operations. From 1997-2000, she worked as an Investigator in the Division of Parole’s Office for Professional Responsibility, where she conducted investigations into allegations of professional misconduct. From 1994 to 1997, Ms. Evans was a Senior Parole Officer and served as Acting Supervisor in the Bronx Area Office. Additionally, she worked as a Parole Revocation Officer from 1990 to 1994. Ms. Evans began her career with the Division in 1986 as a Parole Officer.

Prior to joining the State Division of Parole, Ms. Evans worked for the Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council from 1979 to 1986, a community-based family services and support organization dedicated to foster care prevention.

Ms. Evans holds a B.A. in Psychology from the City College of New York.

As Chair of the State Board of Parole, Ms. Evans will receive an annual salary of $120,800. This position requires Senate confirmation.


POSTED MAY 14 by WNY Advocates for Robert Seth Hayes:

Political Prisoner, Robert Seth Hayes, is in need of support from the community. As many of you know, our friend Seth has been imprisoned since the early 1970s for his involvement in the Black Panther Party and the black liberation struggle. In spite of leading an exemplary life as a prisoner, earning himself honor block status at Wende Correctional, Seth was recently denied parole for the 5th time for the all-too-familiar excuse of the “serious nature of the crime.” As a result, Seth has decided to pursue more aggressive parole strategies, including obtaining the legal assistance of our friend Cheryl Kates who specializes in parole law. It is believed by many familiar with Seth’s case and the history of political prisoners in this state, that with a more aggressive parole team and strategy, Seth has a good chance of parole. Seth needs your help in the form of donations to secure his new legal strategy. Please give what you can to Seth’s Advocate, Nate Buckley, at 438 Massachusetts Ave., Buffalo, NY 14213, or at the next meeting of Prisoners Are People Too (5/18), and please spread the word.

For More Information on Seth, visit: http://www.sethhayes.org/
If you need to reach Nate Buckley via e-mail: buckleynate@yahoo.com.


POSTED MAY 14 by NEST
The NEST Gospel Concert: May 29th at 7:30 PM

Featuring Men's Gospel Choirs from Metropolitan NTM Mission Baptist Church, Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church, Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church, Bethel Baptist Church and Duryee AME Zion Church, plus the Troy Larger Parish Choir

First United Presbyterian Church, 1915 Fifth Avenue, Troy
Suggested donation: $10. Dessert reception follows. Artwork on display.

NEST (Neighbors Establishing Support in Troy) is a church mission designed to help transport family members to local prisons at costs far below public transportation.



POSTED MAY 13 by the Coalition for Fair Criminal Justice Policies:
Campaign to Reinstate George Alexander!

The Prison Action Network and the Coalition for Fair Criminal Justice Policies support George B. Alexander's bid to be reinstated as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the NYS Division of Parole.

If you agree please write a letter to Governor Paterson. We invite you to send your letters of support to Prison Action Network, PO Box 6355, Albany, NY 12206, attn: Gov Paterson, by May 15, and we will hand deliver them to the Governor's office sometime during the next week.

Over the years we’d become accustomed to viewing both parole and corrections as our adversaries. Our perception changed when we saw officials from these two agencies stand up to baseless attacks from Senator Nozzolio and others at a November, 2007 Senate hearing that was clearly intended to stoke public fear around parole issues. Since then, we have become more inclined to view parole and corrections as colleagues in a common struggle—the struggle to restore our communities and families and loved ones to full and positive membership in society.  Thus the selection of the next person to serve as leader of the Board and Division of Parole is of vital concern to us.

We have met with George Alexander both before and after his resignation. He was the keynote speaker at our Family Empowerment Day event on October 25 2008, which was attended by more than 400 people, and at a meeting on April 25, 2009. Now that he has been exonerated of the felony charges that led to demands for his resignation - and on June 13 will have the misdemeanor charge against him expunged from the record - we believe fairness and practicality dictate his reinstatement.
 
It will take courage and strong leadership skills for the next Chairman and Executive Director to continue the momentum begun under Mr. Alexander's leadership. We are concerned that any other candidate might be tempted to retreat in view of what happened to him. He however, has passed that gauntlet and still supports his previous management goals. We therefore conclude that George Alexander is the best person for the job.



BUILDING BRIDGES MAY 2009

Dear Reader,

Prison Action Network has been working with the Coalition For Fair Criminal Justice Policies to develop a strategy for changing parole laws so people can no longer be denied parole solely because of the type of crime they committed. We feel there are other much more important criteria to be considered. In our discussions with experienced policy makers, we've become familiar with the Reintegrative Sentencing Model developed by the Center for Community Alternatives (CCA) and championed by ICARE. We recognize that the foundation for this concept was laid when Penal Law 1.05(6) was amended in 2006 to add a new goal, "the promotion of their (convicted person's) successful and productive reentry and reintegration into society.."  to the four traditional sentencing goals of deterrence, rehabilitation, retribution and incapacitation.

We envision this model being applied to create a documented Reintegration Plan upon arrest, which would subsequently be used at every step of the process through which the accused person passes, including the bail hearing, the court's sentencing decisions, and leading to a new role for the parole board.  The Reintegration Plan would be designed in partnership with the arrested person in analyzing the person's strengths and deficits to determine whether incarceration or an alternative would be most appropriate, and if incarceration, the programs deemed necessary for the person to earn release and eventual full reintegration into the community to which he or she is returned.

That of course, would require a radical restructuring of our current criminal justice process.

To encourage this shift we are suggesting that all of our proposals for improving the criminal justice system, including new Merit Time statutes and Parole Board policies be consistent with this model.

In the new paradigm, we visualize Merit Time becoming a tool to demonstrate the positive growth of a person throughout incarceration and during the reintegration process.  Revisions to 259-i, governing the Parole Board's authority, would be focused on reducing the Board's sanctioning role and expanding its role in monitoring and evaluating the person's behaviors and activities during incarceration. Upon release their role would be solely to monitor and provide support until such time as the person is fully reintegrated into all aspects of the community to which he or she returned.

Be well, have hope, and please, get involved!

IN THIS ISSUE:

1. A list of things you can do to help your incarcerated loved ones
2. Coalition for Fair Criminal Justice Policies
3. ICARE reports
4. Legislation
5. Lifers and Longtermers Clearinghouse
6. Parole news
7. Prison Media
8. Prisoners of the census
9. Transportation to prisons
10. Warrentless vehicle searches curtailed


1. WHAT CAN YOU DO? HERE’S A LIST OF THINGS:

ALBANY
Tuesday May 5, 9:45am - 4:45pm Coalition for Women Prisoners’ 15th Annual ADVOCACY DAY

Join the Coalition for Women Prisoners Advocacy Day on May 5th to advocate for three bills that affect incarcerated women. You can read a description of them under Legislation, Article 5 below. A gender- specific approach to criminal justice policies and programs would provide critical support for women in prison and create a ripple effect of benefits for children, families and communities directly affected by incarceration. Please join us in this important struggle.
Meet at Emmanuel Baptist Church (275 State St., Albany) To get involved, contact Stacey Thompson, sthompson@correctionalassociation.org or 212-254-5700 x333.


Thursday, May 7th, 5:30 – 7:30pm The Center for Law & Justice

Please join with us in celebrating our new, community-based office and the opening of The Jeffrey Wood Reentry Ctr 153 S. Pearl St., “Coliseum Bldg” (just off Madison).. Light refreshments will be served.


BUFFALO:
Monday, May 18, 6:30pm - 8:30pm Prisoners Are People Too

Monthly meeting at the Pratt-Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt Street in Buffalo. This meeting will deal with a program that is new to Western New York: “Mentoring Children of Prisoners: Caregiver’s Choice.” This national initiative brings mentoring programs and children with incarcerated parents together to facilitate quality new mentoring relationships. Youth, ages 4 - 18, who have a parent in state or federal prison are eligible. In Buffalo, it is “Compeer of Greater Buffalo” which has recently received certification and final approval to lead this “Caregiver’s Choice” program in WNY. Caregivers will be able to choose from a menu of mentoring possibilities based on the child’s needs, knowing that their choice meets standards for safety and quality.
Our guest speaker will be Karen Bartkowiak who is the Director of “Compeer for Kids”  and the Coordinator of “Mentoring Children of Prisoners: Caregiver’s Choice” in Buffalo. With bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology from Buffalo State College and SUNY Brockport respectively, she has 16 years experience as a family-based therapist, case manager, team leader, program coordinator, and project director in what she calls “offering opportunities for reducing risk and increasing assets” for children, adolescents, and adults.

PRP2 programs are sponsored by The Circle of Supporters for Reformed Offenders and Friends of BaBa Eng.
For further information, contact Karima Amin: 716-834-8438; karima@prisonersarepeopletoo.org.


NEW YORK CITY:
Tuesday May 5, 6-8pm Mass Incarceration and Democracy:

Considering the Evidence on Long Term Sentences
Moderator, Michelle Fine, Ph.D. Presenters: Kathy Boudin and Eric Waters; Mika'il DeVeaux, Carla Marquez, Felipe Vargas. Discussion led by Craig Haney, Ph.D.

CUNY Graduate Center, 365 5th Avenue, Room 9100


Thursday May 7th, at 1pm Rally to Protest the Criminalization of People with Psychiatric Disabilities

Rally at Governor Paterson's NYC Office, 633 3rd Ave. (between 40th and 41st St.s.)
People with mental illness are marginalized and punished for their disabilities and are being locked up in jails and prisons at an alarming rate. The media and the government portray people with mental illness as crazed, violent serial killers, a stigma that is damaging, untrue, and furthers the government’s justification for prisons. The reality is that people with mental illness are no more violent than anyone else and in fact, people with mental illness are more often targets of violence. People with mental illness generally serve time because of this stigma and because of the government’s unwillingness to support community based treatment options.
Come let your voices be heard!!! Can you join us to say NO to the criminalization of disabled people? This is an issue that affects all of our communities. Please spread the word to help us turn out as many people as possible. Contact: Alex Smith asmith@urbanjustice.org, 646-602-5683


Tuesday, May 12, all day R.T. trip to Albany: Community Service Society Lobby Day.

Let’s have a large Prison Action Network contingent this year. That includes you, so consider making arrangements to take the day off. Lunch and transportation provided from NYC. A good way to start learning to lobby. Busses Departing at 6:30am sharp, Returning: 7pm
For the bus departing at: Community Service Society, 105 E. 22nd Street, corner of Park Ave. South, New York, contact Gabrielle Torres-Rivera or 212-614-5306 to reserve your seat.
For the bus departing NY Fortune Academy Castle, Corner of 140th Street and Riverside Drive, New York, NY, contact Larry White or 212-691-7554 ext. 320 to reserve your seat.


Saturday June 6, 10:30am -1pm Coalition For Fair Criminal Justice Policies-NYC Chapter Meeting

At our April 25th meeting George Alexander presented his bid for reinstatement and answered our questions. A subsequent email poll showed an overwhelming number of the people present were in favor of endorsing his reinstatement to his former position. In the coming days we will be having on-line discussions to plan a strategy and a campaign. On June 6 all interested people are invited to join us as we discuss the actions we’ve taken and plan how to move forward. Location: Fortune Society’s Castle, 630 Riverside Drive at W.140th St. 137th St. stop on the #1 train. More info on the Coalition for Fair Criminal Justice Policies meeting appears below in Article #2, or email us.


TROY:
Friday, May 29th at 7:30pm NEST prison shuttle project benefit Gospel Community Concert

Featuring Men’s Gospel Choirs from: Metropolitan NTM Mission Baptist Church, Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church, Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church, Bethel Baptist Church. Duryee AME Zion Church and The Troy Larger Parish Community Choir

Suggested donation: $10. (no one will be turned away)
Dessert reception will follow.
First United Presbyterian Church, 1915 Fifth Avenue, Troy, NY
For more information. call Linda at 273-5199



2. COALITION FOR FAIR CRIMINAL JUSTICE POLICIES: POLICY COMMITTEE MEETS WITH LEGISLATORS, GEORGE ALEXANDER ADDRESSES APRIL 25 GENERAL MEETING

Policy Committee Report:
On April 7 we met with key people on the staffs of Sen. Montgomery, Sen. Hassell-Thompson, and A.M. Aubry regarding the Merit Time Bills currently in the Senate Committee of Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections. We had in depth and productive discussions with each of them. We expressed our desire for legislation that is more inclusive and consistent with language used in certain sections of the Governor's Public Safety budget and the final report of the Sentencing Reform Commission. Specifically, those sections pertaining to Medical Parole (Part J of the budget) and Shock Eligibility Expansion and Six-Month Limited Time Credit (Part L), which include eligibility for the categories of crime not included in S2932/A6487. Those sections set a precedent which we believe should be used in creating a new Merit Time bill.

We proposed that the justification statement emphasize the public safety aspect of the bill.  For example, the justification could highlight the fact that Merit Time is an evaluative tool to determine the level of rehabilitation a person has achieved from the beginning of his or her incarceration to the time of parole eligibility.  We recognize that Merit Time also has value as a management tool, but its primary use should be to identify those who have made the life changes necessary to ensure society’s safety and the individual's successful reintegration when they return home.

We noted that the process of six-month reviews for Merit Time, to be accrued in two-month vested increments, is not included in the bills currently being considered.  We view the six-month reviews as an excellent way to support the concept of focusing on rehabilitation throughout a person's incarceration.  While the vesting of Merit Time could present opposition, the six-month periodic reviews are a very worthy component, particularly for those who do not have Conditional Release (which is the only group of offenders whose release dates would actually be affected by such vestment).

In general, these offices expressed a willingness to give serious consideration to our suggestions. We are hopeful another Merit Time Bill will be drafted, and that it will include all violent offenses.

Discovered in the Budget Bill:
We’ve been advocating for a risk assessment tool to predict which parole applicants offer the least risk of recidivism, and then we discovered the following has been added to Executive Law 259 A. 4 a. Here it is in context: 

§ 259-A. Division of parole; functions, powers and duties. Subject to the authority of the chairman: 

1. The division shall cause to be obtained and filed as soon as practicable, information as complete as may be obtainable with regard to each inmate who is received in an institution under the jurisdiction of the state department of correctional services.  Such information shall include a complete statement of the crime  for which the inmate has been sentenced, the circumstances of such crime, all presentence memoranda, the nature of the sentence, any orders of protection or temporary orders of protection issued against the inmate at the time of sentencing, the court in which he was sentenced, the name of the judge and district attorney and copies of such probation reports as may have been made as well as reports as to the inmate's social, physical,  mental and psychiatric condition and history.

2.  The division shall cause complete records to be kept of every person on presumptive release, parole, conditional release or post-release supervision.  Such records shall contain the aliases and photograph of each such person, and the other information referred to in subdivision one of this section, as well as all reports  of parole officers in relation to such persons. Such records shall be maintained by the division and may be made available as deemed appropriate by the chairman for use by the department of correctional services, the commissioner of mental health, the commissioner of mental retardation and developmental disabilities, the case review panel, and the attorney general pursuant to section 10.05 of the mental hygiene law, the division,  and the board of parole. Such records shall be organized in  accordance with methods of filing and indexing designed to insure  the immediate availability of complete information about such persons.

3.  The division shall have responsibility for the preparation of  reports and other data required by the state board of parole in  the exercise of its functions.

4.  In accordance with the provisions of this chapter, the division  shall supervise inmates released on parole or conditional release, or to post-release supervision, except that the division may consent to the supervision of a released inmate by the United States parole commission pursuant to the witness security act of nineteen hundred eighty-four.   

4-a. To facilitate the supervision of all inmates released on parole or conditional release, or to post-release supervision, the chairman of the state board of parole shall consider the implementation of a program of graduated sanctions, including but not limited to the utilization of a risk and needs assessment instrument that would be administered to all inmates eligible for parole supervision. Such a program would include various components including approaches that concentrate supervision on new releases, alternatives to incarceration for technical parole violators and the use of enhanced technologies.


April 25th Meeting with George Alexander

There were 35 people who attended. Mr. Alexander began by giving a detailed explanation of "the computer incident" (my words). He then talked about hoping to be reinstated. He spoke of his vision for the department, and what he felt he had accomplished during his abbreviated term of office. When he finished we threw it open to questions from the audience and he spent a good amount of time responding to each question. Although our reason for being there was to determine if we would support his bid for reinstatement, many of the questions were personal, understandably, since the main reason most of us are involved in this struggle is because we want our loved ones home. I can only speak for myself, but I found his talk and his answers to be very much in line with my vision for a parole system whose purpose is to identify and support those people who have shown by their behaviors and their accomplishments that they are ready to return to their communities. Mr. Alexander sees the job of parole officers to be one of support and encouragement, rather than punishment. He believes in looking for the best in everyone, including his employees, and supporting and encouraging the best in each person he works with. He treats his staff the way he hopes they will in turn treat their clients. At the conclusion of the meeting there were many smiling faces in the room, and a line of people wanting to have their pictures taken with him.

So what now? Well, we are waiting for everyone who attended to respond to our email query about whether to endorse his bid for reinstatement. So far only 2 people have voted no. In a few days we will report on the vote, and then, if the final numbers are in favor of supporting him, we will begin a letter writing campaign. We will be reaching out to all our members and to other organizations, hoping to engage every single person in taking action. So stay tuned, and if you're not on our list, please email us.



3. ICARE REPORTS

We are pleased to report that a part of ICARE's proposed A5330 Conditional Offer of Employment Bill has been made into a stand alone bill.  The bill - S.4369 -  clarifies the grounds upon which an employer can deny a job to a formerly incarcerated person.  It has sponsorship from Senator Hassell-Thompson and Assembly Member Aubry.   The new bill, S4369 (a "same-as" Assembly bill number is forthcoming) defines ‘direct relationship’ as an immediate and substantial connection between the crime for which the person was convicted and the duties or responsibilities necessarily related to the license, opportunity, or job in question and such connection would create an unreasonable risk to property or to the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public upon the issuance or continuation of a license or the granting or continuation of employment of such person.



4. LEGISLATION: UPDATES ON MERIT TIME, STATUS OF SIX MONTH CREDIT ALLOWANCE; ROCKEFELLER RETROACTIVITY, AND EIGHT NEW BILLS. [To read the text of the bills visit http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us, and put the number of the bill including the letter preceding it in the search window.]

Introduction: Unless it specifically says otherwise, the following are bills that have sponsorship in both houses of the legislature and are in committee awaiting a decision whether to move them to a vote.

MERIT TIME BILLS S49/A172 and S2932/A6487 Update:
S49/A172 grants eligibility to all people in prison, except those who have Life without parole, and allows up to 1/3 off of the minimum and maximum sentence.  It is not expected that S49/A172 would be able to achieve enough support from other legislators to pass. S2932/A6487 expands the existing merit time (1/7)  to more people with a violent offense (including manslaughter)  but it excludes A1 Violent offenses.  These exclusions are not acceptable to many of us because they deny merit time to a class of people who statistically offer the lowest threat to public safety.  If Merit Time is not to serve as an evaluative tool to determine who presents the best chance of a successful reintegration into society, of what use is it to protect the safety of our communities?  [Another Merit Time Bill (A7564) is described later in this column.]


PENAL LAW § 803-B. SIX MONTH CREDIT TIME ALLOWANCE
Limited credit time allowances for people serving indeterminate or determinate sentences for other than murder in the first degree.

In the case of an eligible person who is subject to an indeterminate sentence with a maximum term of life imprisonment, such person shall be eligible for release six months before the completion of the minimum.

In the case of an eligible offender who is not subject to an indeterminate sentence, such offender shall be eligible for conditional release six months earlier than their maximum. The department must determine that those people have earned the full amount of good time authorized; the withholding of any good behavior time credit by the department shall render them ineligible for the credit.

In either case, the individual must also have participated in no less than two years of college programming; or obtained a masters of professional studies degree; or successfully participated as an inmate program associate for no less than two years; or received a certification from the state department of labor for his or her successful participation in an apprenticeship program; or successfully worked as an inmate hospice aid for a period of no less than two years.

No person shall have the right to demand or require the credit described above.


ROCKEFELLER DRUG LAW REFORMS; HOW DO THEY AFFECT THOSE SENTENCED UNDER THE OLD LAWS?
The Rockefeller Drug law reforms authorize discretionary resentencing of incarcerated men and women who were convicted of Class B drug offenses committed prior to January 13, 2005, and sentenced to indeterminate terms under the old sentencing law.  Eligible persons (must be serving maximum terms of more than 3 years) are able to apply to the sentencing court for resentencing under the new determinate sentencing scheme. They have the right to appointed counsel and to appeal negative decisions.  Some people who have a past history (within 10 years) of a violent felony, or other offense not currently eligible for Merit Time, are ineligible.  For instance, someone convicted as a second violent felony offender or a persistent violent felony offender is not eligible for resentencing.

A903 / S3842 DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH OVERSIGHT
Sponsored by A.M. Richard Gottfried and Senator Thomas Duane
Would require the NYS Dept of Health to oversee and monitor HIV and Hepatitis C care in prison.

A4516-C / S3438-C  DOMESTIC VIOLENCE MERIT TIME
Sponsored by A.M. Helene Weinstein and Senator Velmanette Montgomery
Serena Alfieri of the Coalition for Women Prisoners (CWP) at CCR reports that the DV Merit Time Bill didn’t make it into the budget, despite all our efforts. Currently it’s being introduced as a stand alone bill in the Senate and the Assembly with the new number noted above. It lists the eligibility criteria and allows eligible survivors of domestic violence incarcerated for crimes they committed as a result of abuse to receive merit time and early release from prison. In cases where the person has earned a certificate of earned eligibility, he or she shall be entitled to presumptive release after serving their minimum sentence.


A5462 / S2233 ADOPTION POLICIES
Sponsored by A.M. Jeffrion Aubry and Senator Velmanette Montgomery
Would give incarcerated parents and their children in foster care a more fair opportunity to work toward safe permanency options that do no involve severing family bonds forever.

A7564: MERIT TIME AND PRESUMPTIVE RELEASE FOR NON-VIOLENT INMATES
sponsored by A.M. Aubry
AN ACT to amend correction law, § 803(1)(d)(iv) to include an overall poor institutional record as a disqualification for earning a merit time allowance or presumptive release at the expiration of his or her minimum term of imprisonment. Correction Law § 803(1)(d)(iv) presently specifies that the merit time benefit will be withheld if the inmate commits a serious disciplinary infraction or was found to have filed a frivolous lawsuit. This new bill revises it so that, for example, an inmate with many different disciplinary infractions that resulted in a combined confinement total of 60 keeplock days would be ineligible for merit time, regardless of whether or not any one of the individual infractions was also separately identified as a serious disciplinary infraction.

S4365 / A3492 ACCESS TO PRESENTENCE REPORTS
Sponsored by Sen.Hassell-Thompson and A.M. Aubry
A state or local correctional facility shall provide, upon thirty days of a written request made by an individual committed to such facility, a copy of any pre-sentence investigation reports to the individual that have been prepared pursuant to section 390.20 of the criminal procedure law and are a part of its records for that individual.

S4643 / A2445 VOTING RIGHTS FOR PAROLEES
Sponsored by Sen.Hassell-Thompson and A.M. Daniel J.O'Donnell
This bill would restore 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.

S4684: CHILD SUPPORT MODIFICATION
Sponsored by Sen. Hassell-Thompson
Amends the domestic relations law and the family court act, in relation to allowing modification of child support orders or judgments for persons whose income has been reduced due to incarceration.

S4687: REDRESS FROM EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION
Sponsored by Sen. Hassell-Thompson
Ensures that persons illegally discriminated against by a public employer due to a prior criminal conviction unrelated to the employment sought is able to seek redress with the Division of Human Rights.



5. LIFERS AND LONGTERMERS CLEARINGHOUSE:

I was able to accept an invitation to meet with the Exodus Study Group at Eastern Correctional Facility on Friday April 10th.  I've been invited to attend the Community Minded Organization event at Fishkill Correctional Facility on Saturday May 2, and I'm scheduled to attend the Lifers and Long-termers event on Saturday, May 16 at Sullivan Correctional Facility. Paperwork has been submitted to attend the Project Build Event at Green Haven Correctional Facility on Saturday May 23rd.  These initial visits are for the purpose of establishing contact with approved prison organizations to determine their needs and to identify specific community-based organizations willing to provide the services.

In collaboration with Tyrone Larkins, I will be serving in the capacity of an inreach worker to make contact with approved prison organizations to determine their needs and to then identify community -based organizations willing to provide the needed services.  As in-reach workers we will arrange the establishment and facilitation of the specific programs and services to the prisoner organizations (primarily lifer and long-termer organizations).
 
All this is a work in progress and will be discussed at my future meetings with various prisoner organizations. 

-- Larry White



6. PAROLE NEWS: PART 5 OF PAROLE HANDBOOK; MARCH AND APRIL PAROLE STATISTICS; GRAZIANO MOTION TO DEPOSE PATAKI IS DENIED.

PART 5 ON THE STRUCTURE OF PAROLE, FROM THE NYS PAROLE HANDBOOK
[available online at http://parole.state.ny.us/Handbook.pdf]

WHAT DOES “MAX-OUT” MEAN? “Max-out” means that you are released from prison after serving the maximum term. This can occur in the following instances:
• You are not paroled and lose all good time;
• You are returned to prison for violating the conditions of your release with less than one year remaining on your sentence and a Parole Board decision that you be held to the maximum expiration (ME) of your sentence; or
• You refuse conditional release.

CAN ANYTHING ELSE AFFECT MY MAXIMUM EXPIRATION DATE ONCE I AM RELEASED TO PAROLE SUPERVISION?
Yes. If while under parole supervision, you are declared delinquent and your release status is revoked, your sentence time stops running and the time during which you were delinquent up to the time you were returned to a state correctional facility, is added to your current maximum expiration date. If the Board of Parole cancels delinquency, your original maximum expiration date is restored. Immediately upon being apprehended and incarcerated solely on a parole violation warrant, your time resumes running and is credited as parole jail time.


MARCH 2009 PAROLE BOARD RELEASES – A1 VIOLENT FELONS – unofficial research from parole database

[As usual, we apologize for the appearance of this report.]

Total Interviews # Released # Denied Rate of Release

15 initials 2 13 13%
91 reappearances 13 78 14%
106 total 15 91 14%


March Initial Release
Facility Sentence Offense # of Board

Arthurkill 15-Life Kidnap 1 initial
Otisville 20-Life Murder 2 Initial – deported


March Reappearances
Facility Sentence Offense # of Board Eligibility Date

Bare Hill 1?-3 Murder 2 2nd 8/8/07
Bare Hill 20-Life Murder pre 74 ?? Released 4/14
Cayuga 22-Life Murder 2 3rd 5/15/05
Collins 17-Life Murder 2 2nd 7/23/07-deported
Collins 17-Life Murder 2 5th 7/27/01
Coxsackie 15-Life Murder 2 8th 9/3/95-de novo
Fishkill 15-Life Murder 2 8th 7/24/95
Gouverneur 15-Life Murder 2 4th 7/18/03 1
Gowanda 25-Life Murder 2 2nd 7/9/07
Great Meadow 7 ?-Life Murder 2 5th 1/29/00
Great Meadow 20-Life Murder 2 7th 7/2/97
Orleans 25-Life Murder 2 2nd 7/27/07
Wende 25-Life M2 2x 4th 7/1/03



APRIL RELEASES BASED ON PRISONERS' REPORTS. (Please note that the following statistics are not all limited to people convicted of A1 Violent felonies - some include all parole hearings):

MID-ORANGE
April - Ferguson, Thompson
22 appearances (3 were A1VO)
2 were paroled (1 died the next day, sadly)
17 denials
3 were postponed
All denials were for 2 years

SULLIVAN ANNEX
April - Hernandez, the other 2 not reported
4 appearances (all non-violent)
3 were paroled: 1 initial, 2 Merit
1 denial on initial appearance, 2 year hold, CR’s next yr.

WOODBOURNE
April - Loomis, Ross, Hernandez
24 Appearances: 9 granted parole; 12 denied, 3 postponements
A1VO: 12 seen, 4 granted, 6 denied, 2 postponed
Of the 4 A1VOs granted, one was 15-Life, 7th board; one 15-Life, 4th board; one 17.5-Life 4th board; one 25-Life, 2nd board

GRAZIANO VS PATAKI: The Judge has denied the Plaintiffs’ (Graziano et.al) motion to compel the deposition of the Defendant, former NYS governor George E. Pataki, citing immunity for high ranking officials, which protects them from “unnecessary probing of the officials’ thought processes”, and such depositions would “likely discourage individuals from public service positions”. Justice Sabel also stated in her decision that “Pataki has offered to answer written interrogatories, and such a procedure is a reasonable middle ground.” Case 7:06-cv-00480-CS Document 121 Filed 4/27/2009



7. PRISON MEDIA: RADIO’S FANCY BROCCOLI HAS NEW HOSTS AND NEW FORMAT

FANCY BROCCOLI RADIO SHOW, WVKR  91.3 FM - Sundays - Jazz & Prison Talk, 3:00-6:00 pm
May Schedule (subject to change)
Sunday, May 3  - Eric Mayo, Motivational Speaker & Author of 'From Jail to A Job'
Sunday, May 17 - Bonnie Allen, Family Partnership Center, Discusses Re-Entry & Transition
Sunday, May 24 - Memorial Day Weekend - Committed Relationships while Incarcerated
Sunday, June 7 - Sean Pica (Formerly Incarcerated) Discusses Committed Relationships - After Prison - You Come Home... 'then what!?'

RELATIONSHIPS SERIES:
Airing on Sunday May 24 and Sunday June 7 this series will feature responses from the listening audience to the questions below or on issues not listed that they are attempting to solve themselves. The hosts will speak to the issues from the perspective of a formerly incarcerated husband (Ernest) and the wife who was with him (Kathy) for many years during that time.

RELATIONSHIP QUESTIONS:
(please respond ASAP--no later than May 19)
You may also address an issue not listed below.
1.  What is the biggest obstacle you face as a married or committed couple, trying to hold your relationship together while incarcerated?
2.  What are some specific issues you and your partner seem to have disagreements about frequently (from both perspectives).
3.  What advice do you have for other men and women to keep their relationships and/or marriages strong?
4.  What is your biggest joy of having a committed relationship with an incarcerated person?
5.  Other than not being with your loved one in person, what is your biggest struggle being in a committed relationship with an incarcerated person?
6.  Do you feel you will be with your loved one after he or she is released?
7.  If yes, do you have an actual 'plan' for your relationship after release?  Do you imagine it will change substantially from what it is now?  If so, how to you think it may change?

“Fancy Broccoli “airs on WVKR, 91.3FM, Poughkeepsie NY on Sundays from 3 - 6 pm, Eastern Time, and streams online - go to www.WVKR.org and click on (or near) the word 'LISTEN'.
Visit archives to find lots of other good interviews.



8. PRISONERS OF THE CENSUS - "IT'S SYSTEMIC DISTORTION, YOU HAVE A DISPROPORTIONATELY BLACK AND HISPANIC MALE POPULATION THAT IS COUNTED IN THE WRONG SPOT."
[This is a condensed version. For the complete article, send a request and mention the name of the article and the month of the issue]

For Prison Policy Initiative, which has analyzed the last census numbers, counting inmates in prisons distorts population numbers in New York and several other states. States and counties rely on population numbers from the census to draw their legislative districts. In New York and some other states, Republicans continue to have clout in legislatures because they are elected from safely conservative, rural districts even as those areas lose people. The exception to that population decline: inmates, whose numbers have grown because of tough mandatory sentencing laws. "It's systemic distortion," said Peter Wagner, executive director of the Massachusetts-based Prison Policy Initiative. "You have a disproportionately black and Hispanic male population that is counted in the wrong spot."

In Albany, Alice Green, founder and executive director of the Center for Law and Justice, which works on criminal justice issues, said that "when I saw the huge number of African Americans in some of these counties, I was shocked." "In Upstate New York in some of the counties, the [black] people in prison outnumber the free African Americans," said Green, who is from an Adirondack mining town and earned her doctorate in criminal justice in Albany. Because the prisoners cannot vote but are counted as constituents, she said, "they are not represented, and they are totally exploited."

"The people elected in those districts with high prison populations are more conservative and support more mass incarcerations and the existence of prisons," Green said. "They use the numbers to get elected, but they don't represent [the prisoners'] interests."

The question of how to properly count prisoners has been a long-standing concern for the NAACP. "It's been troubling us for quite some time," said Hilary O. Shelton, a vice-president and director of the Washington office. "Over 40 percent of America's prison population is African American, and we make up 13 percent of the American population," he said. "Virtually all of these prisons are outside the inner cities where most African Americans live."

The Census Bureau has no plans to change the way it counts prisoners in 2010. Spokesman Robert Bernstein said, "We're following the concept of 'usual residence' -- where the person lives and sleeps most of the time." Under the concept, as explained on the bureau's Web site, people who are temporarily away from their usual residence on Census Day -- vacationers or business travelers, for example -- will be counted as residents wherever they live "most of the time." People "without a usual residence . . . will be counted where they are staying on Census Day."

An alternative would be to count prisoners at their last known address -- an approach favored by the NAACP and New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I).

Whether temporary residents "are in a dormitory, a nursing home, student housing or a prison, they are using the infrastructure," says Elizabeth O'C. Little, a Republican state senator in a rural Upstate district containing 13 prisons -- 12 state and one federal. Besides, she said, the reason her district has so many prisons is "because no one else wanted them."

Wagner, of the Prison Policy Initiative, found in a recent analysis that seven Upstate districts would not meet the population requirement without including inmates. At a minimum, he said, the Census Bureau should disclose where the prisons are located in their tally. "This is one of the things that gives that region extra influence," he said.

Contributions to Peter Wagner's project can be made by sending a paper check to PPI, PO Box 127 Northampton MA 01061. For other communications: www.PrisonersoftheCensus.org, pwagner@prisonpolicy.org, www.prisonpolicy.org



9. TRANSPORTATION: CAPITAL DISTRICT
NEST Prison Shuttle schedule: Mt. McGregor, Washington, and Great Meadow CFs on Sat, May 2 ($35 adults, $25 children), Coxsackie, Greene, and Hudson on Sat, May 9  ($20  adults, $15 children) from Oakwood Ave Presbyt. Church parking lot, Troy at 7 AM, then to Albany Greyhound bus station at 7:15. Trip to Utica (Midstate, Marcy, Mohawk, Oneida) on Sat, May 16 leaving Troy at 5 AM. Sullivan trip (Ulster, Eastern, Woodbourne, Sullivan) on May 23 leaving at 6:30 AM ($45 adults, $30 children). Reservations: Linda O'Malley 518- 273-5199.

Free door to door rides from the Capital District: The Justice Committee at the Unitarian Church now has 3 volunteer drivers, so your chances of finding a ride just got better! If you have a loved one in prison and you have no other way of getting to see him or her, maybe we can help. Call us to find out: 518 253 7533



10. WARRENTLESS VEHICLE SEARCHES CURTAILED BY US SUPREME COURT, WITH COMMENTARY BY JAZZ HAYDEN.

Supreme Court Limits Warrantless Vehicle Searches, Mark Sherman
04-22-2009

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that police need a warrant to search the vehicle of someone they have arrested if the person is locked up in a patrol cruiser and poses no safety threat to officers.

The Court's 5-4 decision in a case from Arizona [ Arizona v. Gant, 07-542] puts new limits on the ability of police to search a vehicle immediately after the arrest of a suspect, particularly when the alleged offense is nothing more serious than a traffic violation. Justice John Paul Stevens said in the majority opinion that warrantless searches still may be conducted if a car's passenger compartment is within reach of a suspect who has been removed from the vehicle or there is reason to believe evidence will be found of the crime that led to the arrest.

"When these justifications are absent, a search of an arrestee's vehicle will be unreasonable unless police obtain a warrant," Stevens said.

Staff writers Robert Jablon in Los Angeles and Arthur H. Rotstein in Tucson, Ariz., contributed to the report from which the above was taken. [To request a copy of the complete article, please send us the name of this article and the month of this newsletter.]

Joseph Jazz Hayden, who sent this article to us, weighs in:
"The Supreme Court's decision on warrantless searches is major for poor communities of color.  Everyday in Harlem I watch and film these warrantless searches take place twenty four hours a day.  Our young men and women are stopped on traffic violations, which are only a pretext for the search, and then their bodies and vehicles are searched in public without probable cause or reasonable suspicion and, even more, in violation of the constitutional prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures.  It's amazing that in the 5-4 decision, the majority consisted of Clarence Thomas and Anthony Scalia, two of the most conservative judges on the Supreme Court.  Our so called liberal judges voted against the majority.  This decision should have a major impact on the stop frisk practices of police all across this nation.  Prisoners should be filing appeals on their convictions if they were a result of the so-called "stop and frisk" policy.  The practice of stopping our community members and searching their vehicles to look for contraband under the pretext of a traffic violation is no longer legal.  Get the word out!  Contact your political representatives and find out what is being done to insure that these unlawful stop and frisks brought to an end."


Joseph Jazz Hayden
  • info@allthingsharlem.com

  • WWW.ALLTHINGSHARLEM.COM



  • Building Bridges is a joint effort of Prison Action Network and the FUUSA Justice Committee
    We thank the Community Church of NY, Unitarian Universalist, for their support.

    You can reach us at 518 253 7533 or PrisonActionNetwork@gmail.com