Building Bridges

The monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

JUNE 2009

To go directly to the June edition of Building Bridges, please scroll down below these late-breaking announcements.


The Safe and Fair Evaluation (S.A.F.E.) Parole Act Bill # S 5374 / A 7939
THE PURPOSE OF PAROLE BOARD HEARINGS IS EVALUATING READINESS, NOT PUNISHMENT

The SAFE Parole Act calls for:

Face-to face videotaped parole hearings
In-person interviews
Increase the parole applicant’s trust in the process and in the goal of reintegration
Create an environment in which the parole board can more fully and fairly evaluate applicants
Videotaping interviews ensures that the final record is accurate and detailed
Allows for a more effective review of the hearing
Holds everyone accountable for their conduct
Cost of videotaping hearings is offset by saving the cost of stenographers and the cost of transcripts

No secrets: parole applicant sees everything in the folder that the parole board sees
Results in greater transparency, fairness and trust in the parole process
The applicant can address errors or other information
Ensures a more accurate portrayal of the applicant on which the parole board can base its decision

Release decisions based on rehabilitation and preparedness for reentry and reintegration into society
The parole board is given specific, workable criteria by which to determine the probability that the applicant, if released, will live and remain at liberty without violating the law.
The NYS Transitional Accountability Plan (TAP) provides a meaningful process by which the Parole Board can make decisions regarding rehabilitation and release to parole supervision.

Clear and complete instructions spelling out what the person must do to be released
Alleviates the frustration and confusion experienced by parole applicants when they are not told what they can do in order to be released to parole supervision
This change holds everyone accountable—the applicant, the Department of Correctional Services & Community Supervision and the Parole Board.

Visit www.ParoleReform.org
to send letters to your legislators and record your personal experiences
POSTED JUNE 8 from various sources:
A DAY TO REMEMBER IN ALBANY: ANDREA EVANS'S PAROLE APPOINTMENT IS APPROVED BY SENATE. MINUTES LATER A REPUBLICAN COUP TAKES OVER THE SENATE; MALCOLM SMITH MAKES STATEMENT.

Monday,June 8
3:30pm. Angela Evans was just confirmed by the NYS Senate as Chairwoman of the Parole Board, and CEO of the Division of Parole. Prison Action Network congratulates her, and looks forward to working with her to make NYS a leader in progressive evidence-based parole practices.

4:02 PM Senate changes hands.
Legislative Gazette staff writers and The Associated Press

Sens. Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada Jr. have reportedly decided to caucus with the Republican Conference, giving control of the Senate chamber back to the GOP with just 8 days left in session.
The decision by the two New York City Democrats gives Republicans a 32-30 edge in the chamber.
Republicans named Espada temporary president of the Senate and Dean Skelos of Nassau County vice president and majority leader. Skelos is the former majority leader.

5:25 PM Statement by Malcolm Smith

“This was an illegal and unlawful attempt to gain control of the Senate and reverse the will of the people who voted for a Democratic Majority. Nothing has changed, Senator Malcolm A. Smith remains the duly elected Temporary President and Majority Leader.  The real Senate Majority is anxious to get back to governing, and will take immediate steps to get us back to work.”

THE NEWS IS COMING IN SO FAST, THAT WE SUGGEST YOU CHECK the Legislative Gazette FREQUENTLY FOR UPDATES IN THE COMING HOURS AND DAYS.



BUILDING BRIDGES JUNE 2008

Dear Reader, Be well, have hope, and please, spread the word.

In this Issue
1. A list of ways you can help create positive change
2. Citizens Against Recidivism reports on "Considering the Evidence on Long term Sentences"
3. Coalition for Fair Criminal Justice Policies Update
4. ICARE Reports
5. Legislation Report
6. Lifers and Longtermers Clearinghouse update on community linkages
7. Parole news and statistics
8. Prison Media: Fancy Broccoli, Soul Spectrum, and Still Here Harlem
9. SHU Bill Hearing held in March to discuss delay in implementation
10. Temporary Work Release: part 2 of "Wilderness or Promised Land"
11. Transportation to Prison

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

ALBANY
Thursday, June 11, 5:30 — 8:00 PM Community Forum: Stop the Violence.
HEAR! About Albany SNUG / Chicago CeaseFire
SHARE! Your ideas and concerns
TELL! What’s up with your efforts
Bring it all together to Stop the Violence! You are the Answer!

Pizza and soft drinks will be served. Albany Housing Authority, 200 South Pearl Street, Parking in Rear

The Community Coalition to Prevent Violence is working with community stakeholders, the University at Albany, and Chicago CeaseFire to implement Operation SNUG, an anti-violence program initiated by Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith. Exhibit tables will include information about job training and employment opportunities (call to reserve a table) . For more information: Call: (518) 442-5745 or Email.


BUFFALO:
Monday, June 22, 6:30pm - 8:30pm Prisoners Are People Too will meet at the Pratt-Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt Street in Buffalo. This meeting will consider the ongoing plight of George BaBa Eng, imprisoned for murder in 1977, sentenced to a term of 25 years-to-life, and denied parole four times. Described as a mentor, teacher, brother, friend and “jailhouse lawyer,” by many, he continues to be held due to “the nature of the crime.” As a reformed offender with an excellent disciplinary record, why does the Parole Board not deem him worthy of a “second chance?” Why, after one Parole Commissioner said, “Mr. Eng, you have gone above and beyond my expectations,” is George BaBa Eng still being held?

“Friends of BaBa Eng” will share their thoughts at this meeting and urge others to lend their support to this “prisoner of conscience” who will face his fifth Parole Board hearing in October of this year.

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:
Saturday June 6, 10:30am - 1pm Coalition For Fair Criminal Justice Policies-NYC Chapter Meeting
On June 6 all interested people are invited to join us as we discuss the actions we’ve taken and make plans for the future. We are hoping to have as our guest Andrea D. Evans, nominee for Chairman of Parole and CEO of the Division of Parole. Please spread the word so we can show her our numbers. RSVP to PAN: 518 253 7533.

Location: Fortune Society’s Academy aka Castle, 630 Riverside Drive at W.140th St. 137th St. stop on the #1 train.


STATEN ISLAND
Tuesday June 8 at 7pm Circle of Love Prison Support Group
Serving those, and the families of those, who have been impacted by incarceration and the circumstances surrounding it.
Meetings every second Tuesday of the month, providing a role model that will help steer formerly incarcerated men and women through this turbulent time of transition
Central Family Life Center, 59 Wright Street - between VanDuzer and Water Sts - in Stapleton, Staten Island
For information: Antoinnette Donegan 646 932 3295, email:

TROY, AMSTERDAM, ALBANY, BUFFALO, LA FAYETTE, NEWBURGH, ROCHESTER, UTICA
Youth Construction Initiative Program (YCIP)
An on-the-job training experience for non-college bound students, designed to afford 11th and 12th graders, especially minorities, females and the economically disadvantaged, an opportunity to explore careers in heavy highway construction. Free, with monthly stipends. Contact YCIP program director Ladan Alomar at 518 842 3762, or 518 944 3620 to find out more.


2. CITIZENS AGAINST RECIDIVISM REPORTS ON MAY 5TH PANEL DISCUSSION, “CONSIDERING THE EVIDENCE ON LONG TERM SENTENCES”. PANELISTS SAY, “PAROLE DECISIONS OFTEN FLY IN THE FACE OF EVIDENCE SUGGESTING THAT THE CLASS LEAST LIKELY TO BE RELEASED IS MADE UP OF THOSE (DESCRIBED AS MODEL PRISONERS) WHO ARE LEAST LIKELY TO RECIDIVATE”

The panel included participatory researchers, policy reformers and criminal justice advocates assembled at CUNY’s Graduate Center to review evidence relating to people in prison with long term sentences, particularly those who had committed violent offenses.  The group was assembled to discuss current policies toward this class of incarcerated people and to suggest the implementation of various policies regarding them and others among the incarcerated population [whose release] is thought to better serve the public interest and increase public safety.  The discussion was lead by Dr. Michelle Fine, a Distinguished Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center. Panelists included Kathy Boudin, Eric Waters (Osbourne Association), Mika’il DeVeaux (Citizens Against Recidivism, Inc.), Carla Marquez (Ph.D. candidate at the Graduate Center) and Felipe Vargas (The Doe Fund).

The evening began with a recount of the “irrationality and fiscal and moral costs of bulging (US) prisons,” including the consequences of current incarceration policies in the American society (1 out of 100 adults incarcerated), particularly the impact these policies have had on communities of color (1 out of 9 African American men are incarcerated), and on the millions of children who have a parent in prison, on parole or probation.

Although 95% of those who are in prison are eventually released (most on parole supervision), many have endured increasingly longer sentences in part because of de facto resentencing by parole commissioners.  Parole decisions often fly in the face of evidence suggesting that the class least likely to be released is made up of those described as model prisoners who are least likely to recidivate.

Between 1985 and 2002, 1,105 people were released after serving a sentence for murder.  Only 3% (33 people) convicted of murder returned for a new commitment and 17% (189 individuals) returned for a parole violation. Their overall return rate was half of that for all DOCS releases.

Panelists provided the audience with detailed information regarding New York State Law [Executive Law 259-i(2)(c)(A) ] governing parole release and the guidelines for granting parole but also noted that the criteria were not equally weighted because many were repeatedly denied parole solely because of the nature of the crime.

It was pointed out that more emphasis needed to be placed on how people are “treated” while incarcerated and the “condition” they would be in when they were released.  If public safety is the primary goal of our criminal justice system, then strategies to return people to the community in conditions better than they were when they entered prison should be in use.

Panelists reviewed the functions of the prison system (rehabilitation, punishment, deterrence, and incapacitation), several sentencing structures (determinate, indeterminate, and mandatory minimums) and the impact and benefits of each as a preface to introducing the mission of the New York State Division of Parole: To promote public safety by preparing inmates for release and supervising parolees to the successful completion of their sentence.

Calling for an emphasis on treatment and an effort to prepare people in prison for release, panelists argued for a shift from current parole policies to one that truly linked preparation/programming (e.g., college and meaningful vocational training) to accelerated release; a commitment from the Departments of Corrections and Parole to provide programming that aided development and or facilitated release of people in conditions better than the ones in which they entered prison; and that the focus in this regard begin as soon as people entered prison rather than mere months before parole eligibility.

There was a call for providing contracts between people in prison and paroling authorities that would outline performance measures needed to become eligible for parole release including skill training, education, institutional behavior, substance abuse treatment, work or job assignment, etc.  The contract would define a definite release date contingent upon successful completion of  the terms of the agreement in keeping with the idea of 'a reasonable expectation’ of being released to parole supervision, assuming participation in rehabilitation programs and the maintenance of a good disciplinary record           

To enhance public safety while “supervising parolees to the successful completion of their sentence” panelists argued for:
·         A policy shift that focused on case management/case planning;
·         Clarification of the criteria for success and milestones along the way;
·         Tailored conditions of parole (conditions relative to risk);
·         Gradual lifting of sanctions for people on parole who meet agreed upon goals and conditions of parole;
·         Shifting of the focus to those who presented the greatest risk of violating the terms of their parole;
·         Involvement of the people on parole in the case planning process;
·         Involvement of the family, community members, or other informal social networks in case planning and supervision;
·         Incentives for goal completion;
·         Make consequence of violations of conditions clear;
·         Implement earned discharge, i.e. opportunity for early discharge from parole for meeting and maintaining conditions of parole, program participation and or goals set.
Panelists talked about the “paradox of post-prison life” where many who return from prison feel “invisible” and separate from the larger society, while being expected to overcome the many barriers to reintegration they face the social stigma of having a history of criminality.   



3. COALITION FOR FAIR CRIMINAL JUSTICE POLICIES GENERAL MEETING ON JUNE 6 TO DISCUSS CANCELLATION OF REINSTATEMENT CAMPAIGN AND WHERE TO GO FROM HERE REGARDING THE PROGRESS OF OUR MONTHLY MEETINGS. POLICY COMMITTEE MET WITH LEGISLATORS, WILL HOLD ALL DAY MEETING ON JUNE 20 TO WORK ON PAROLE LEGISLATION GOAL.

General Meeting Report:
We did not meet in May. Our next meeting on June 6 is announced above, in Article 1. We hope to be joined by Andrea Evans, Governor Paterson’s nominee for the top position in the Division of Parole.

Policy Committee Report:
On May 14 two members of the Policy Committee met with Sandy Stewart and Juan Martinez from Senator Montgomery’s office to present them with statistics showing that approximately $81 million to $250 million per year can be saved by the passage of a Merit Time bill that includes all violent felons excluding certain categories. The broad range is the result of different estimates of the annual maintenance cost per incarcerated person and the average reduction in time served.
On June 20 we will meet in Albany for an all day work retreat to continue the task of developing a narrative description of our policy goal for Parole Reform. We hope to have the document completed by September 2009. In preparation for our meeting we are reading a publication of the National Institute of Corrections, called Comprehensive Framework for Paroling Authorities in an Era of Evidence-Based Practices. If you’re interested it’s available at http://nicic.gov/Library/022906.



4. ICARE REPORTS

As ICARE has engaged in organizational development over the last several weeks - having submitted a lengthy financial review as well as beginning preparations for a day-long annual meeting in mid-June, members of the board are focused on the tasks at hand (policy advocacy, correspondence and reentry ministry, and information dissemination) and the challenges posed by the current economy.  We are continuing to plan strategically with the resources at hand and remain committed to pushing a progressive policy agenda in Albany, specifically on barriers related to employment and criminal records.

- Rima Vesely-Flad



5. LEGISLATION: THERE WAS AN ERROR IN MAY’S REPORT ON A7564 AND PENAL LAW 803-B; MERIT TIME BILL UPDATE; BILL TO DELETE CRIMINAL HISTORY FROM DOCS WEBSITE [Copies of all bills mentioned are available at http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/menuf.cgi]

Corrections:
1. A7564: Merit time for Non-Violent Inmates[sic]
We mistakenly added an extra zero to the number of keeplock days it takes to disqualify a person. It should have read 60 days, not 600 days! That’s a big difference, and we’re sorry if we mislead you.

2. Penal Law 803-B Six Month Credit Time Allowance:
I thought the denial of the 6 month credit to those who had had any good behavior time credit withheld applied to both indeterminate and determinate sentences, but there are those who think it applies only to those with a determinate sentence. When I went back to read the law, it is so long and so complicated that I must excuse myself from reporting on it. I simply don't understand what it is saying. Remember, I'm not a lawyer and neither is anyone else on our staff. If any reader is competant to resolve this question, it would be appreciated.


The following bills 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:
We are still waiting to see if either of these bills will be moved out of committee and/or revised beforehand. S2932 will be on the committee’s agenda for June 1.

S4406-B Hassell-Thompson/ A 3131-b  Bradley (Ms)  Deleting Criminal History from DOCS Website
Correction Law
TITLE....Provides the criminal information of certain persons may only be posted on the department of corrections' website for a period not to exceed five years after his or her release

STATUS (included so you can see the process and the amount of time it’s taken):
04/22/09 REFERRED TO CRIME VICTIMS, CRIME AND CORRECTION
05/07/09 AMEND AND RECOMMIT TO CRIME VICTIMS, CRIME AND CORRECTION
05/07/09 PRINT NUMBER 4406A
05/18/09 1ST REPORT CAL.349
05/19/09 2ND REPORT CAL.
05/20/09 AMENDED 4406B
05/20/09 ADVANCED TO THIRD READING

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section one amends the correction law by adding a new section 9 which provides that any information relating to the conviction of a person may be posted on the department's website for a period not to exceed five years after the expiration of such person's sentence of imprisonment and any period of parole or post-release supervision. However, in the case of a person who has been committed to the department on more than one occasion, the department may post conviction information relating to any prior commitment on such website for a period not to exceed five years after the expiration of such person's sentence of imprisonment and any period of parole or post-release supervision arising from the most recent commitment to the department.
The foregoing provisions do not apply to any person who is convicted of an offense that would make the person ineligible for merit time under section 803 of the correction law (violent offenders) or to persons required to register as a sex offender.



6. LIFERS AND LONGTERMERS CLEARINGHOUSE: HOPE LIVES FOR LIFERS PROJECT IS IN THE PROCESS OF IDENTIFYING LIFER ORGANIZATIONS IN THOSE FACILITIES CLOSE TO THE NEW YORK CITY AREA WHERE WE ARE BASED SO THAT WE CAN VISIT AND ENGAGE IN DISCUSSIONS TO DETERMINE WHAT THE PROMINENT NEEDS ARE

My primary mission upon release from prison was to develop community linkages that would 1) sponsor approved prison organizations, and 2) work collaboratively with prison organizations to jointly develop programs and services that reverse criminal behavior and improve opportunities for release.

Developing community linkages is a complex task and I have probably given those I left behind the impression that I have made more progress than I actually have. And so I need to clarify some things, especially in regard to the Hope Lives for Lifers project.

Hope Lives for Lifers is a project of the Doing Justice Coalition. The Doing Justice Coalition is a collaborative partnership between faith communities and criminal justice practitioners to improve criminal justice outcomes by integrating the concepts of faith, hope and enduring beliefs with evidence based practices and non-traditional approaches to social justice.

The Doing Justice Coalition created a number of subcommittees designed to address specific criminal justice issues. One such committee was the Lifers and Long-Termers subcommittee. That subcommittee developed the Hope Lives for Lifers as a project designed to address the specific needs of those serving life, long-term and life without parole sentences.

Members of the Hope Lives for Lifers project are drawn from a broad cross-section of faith communities, criminal justice involvements and social justice activities. Although we are committed to providing a collaborative linkage with approved long-termer organizations, we are still in the formative stages of development. We are in the process of identifying lifer organizations in those facilities close to the New York City area where we are based so that we can visit and engage in discussions to determine what the prominent needs are.

Once we have gathered enough information to state just what needs we plan to address, we will meet with central office to gain approval of our programs. While we are in the process of making these moves, please stay in touch and continue to inform us of your involvements.

-- Larry White



7. PAROLE NEWS: ANDREA D. EVANS IS NOMINATED FOR HEAD OF PAROLE; PART 6 OF PAROLE HANDBOOK; ADDITION TO PAROLE WEBSITE PROVIDES PAROLE SUPERVISION STATUS OF INDIVIDUALS ON PAROLE; APRIL AND MAY PAROLE STATISTICS
.
On Friday May 22 at 6:30pm Governor David A. Paterson announced the nomination of Andrea D. Evans as Chair of the State Board of Parole and Chief Executive Officer of the Division.

According to the Governor's website, "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.

This position requires Senate confirmation."


PART 6 ON PAROLE AND PAROLE BOARD ACTIVITIES IN STATE CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES
[available online at http://parole.state.ny.us/Handbook.pdf ]

What does parole and parole eligibility mean?
Parole is release granted by the Board of Parole as a matter of discretion after you have served a portion of your sentence. Parole eligibility occurs when you have served the minimum period of imprisonment, as established by statute. However, if you successfully complete a Shock Incarceration Program and are granted a Certificate of Earned Eligibility by the Department of Correctional Services, you may become eligible for parole before you complete your minimum period of imprisonment. You may also become eligible for parole before reaching your minimum term by earning Merit Time. Inmates with Final Orders of Deportation in place may be considered for release, for deportation only, prior to completion of their minimum sentences. Finally, certain terminally ill inmates may be eligible for Parole Board review before serving a minimum term.

Do I have to submit an application for parole release?
No. Once you reach an applicable eligibility date, you will be automatically scheduled for Parole Board release consideration.

How do I become “ready” for parole?
Parole “readiness” includes several factors. It is important that you demonstrate good prison behavior throughout your period of incarceration. Becoming involved in prison programming offers you an opportunity to improve your education and acquire new skills.
For example, there are programs provided by DOCS which include substance abuse counseling, as well as education and self-help groups. Such programs may help you learn how to cope with drug and alcohol problems upon your release. There are many opportunities in prison for you to learn more about yourself and to make important strides in self-improvement.
Correction Counselors and facility Parole Officers can advise you about becoming “release ready” and using your time in prison to your best advantage.


PAROLEE INFORMATION IS NOW AVAILABLE ON PAROLE WEBSITE [www.parole.state.ny.us]
Public can access the parole supervision status of individuals

Henry Lemons, interim chairman of the New York State Division of Parole, announced the launch of a new “parolee lookup” feature on the Division’s website, www.parole.state.ny.us. The public can now access real-time information on the parole status of those currently under supervision as well as those who have completed their supervision.

“Victims, members of law enforcement, state and federal criminal justice agencies and family members routinely have questions about the status of an individual’s parole supervision,” Lemons said. “By creating this valuable online tool, people can have access to this important information 24 hours a day.”

After entering specific information about a person under parole supervision such as a name or identification number, the public will be able to search for details about that individual’s parole status. Data that is available includes the county where the crime was committed, crime of conviction, the date parole supervision began, the status of parole supervision, the address of the parole office that an individual reports to as well as the name and contact telephone number for the parole officer overseeing the case.

The addition of the look-up feature on the website is part of the Division’s goal to make its work more transparent and readily available to the public. It follows the 2008 online addition of the Parole Board interview schedule that allows users to look back at Parole Board determinations over a two year period, and locate the parole interview dates of persons that are scheduled to come before the Board in the next four months.


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

Total Interviews # Released # Denied Rate of Release
16 initials 2 14 13%
70 reappearances 22 48 31%
86 total interviews 24 62 28%

April Initial Releases
Facility Sentence Offense # of Board
Eastern 15-Life Conspiracy 1 initial
Wende 25-Life Murder 2 initial

April Reappearances
Facility Sentence Offense Eligibility Date # of Board
Arthurkill 15-Life Murder 2 9/5/93 9th board
Arthurkill 25-Life Murder 2 7/29/07 2nd board
Bare Hill 15-Life Murder 2 9/11/03 4th board
Cape Vincent 25-Life Murder 2 10/22/05 3rd board
Fishkill 15-Life Murder 2 8/25/05 3rd board
Fishkill 16-Life Murder 2 8/21/05 3rd board
Fishkill 25-Life Murder 2 8/23/03 4th board
Fishkill 25-Life Murder 2 3/23/01 5th board
Fishkill 25-Life Murder 2 6/12/02 4th board
Franklin 15-Life Att Murder 1 7/21/06 3rd board
Franklin 15-Life Murder 2 8/3/99 6th board
Gowanda 20-Life Murder 2 9/7/07 2nd board
Great Meadow 25-Life Murder 2 10/20/05 spec cons + 3 boards
Groveland 25-Life Murder pre-74 8/17/97 7th board
Oneida 15-Life Murder 2 8/25/93 9th board
Shawangunk 16 1/2- Life Murder 2 8/19/95 8th board
Wallkill 15-Life Murder 2 2/27/01 5th board
Woodbourne 15-Life Murder 2 8/30/97 7th board
Woodbourne 15-Life Murder 2 8/26/05 3rd board
Woodbourne 17 1/2-Life Murder 2 8/15/03 4th board
Washington 20-Life Murder pre-74 8/26/90 11th board?
Woodbourne 25-Life Murder 2 8/5/07 2nd board

[It appears that May releases were very low. Not one single person with an A1 violent felony conviction got out on his (no females) first board this month, and only 10 A1VFs got out on reappearances.]


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

MID-ORANGE
May - Hernandez, Smith, Thompson
25 appearances
5 were paroled (2 were A1VO; 1 of whom was de novo)
20 denials
No postponements
All denials were for 2 years

SULLIVAN ANNEX
May - Clarke and ?
2 appearances (both violent)
0 were paroled: 1 was second board, the other was 4th board
Both got 2 year holds

WOODBOURNE
May - Clarke and Hagler
12 Appearances: 1 granted parole; 9 denied; 2 postponed
A1VO: 6 seen, 0 granted, 5 denied, 1 postponed

GRAZIANO VS PATAKI: No new developments in May.



8. PRISON MEDIA: RADIO: FANCY BROCCOLI, WITH KATHY AND ERNEST HENRY; SOUL!, WITH LIBERTY GREEN, ARTICLE IN NY TIMES: JOSEPH ‘JAZZ” HAYDEN’S STILL HERE HARLEM PRODUCTIONS

FANCY BROCCOLI RADIO SHOW, WVKR  91.3 FM - Sundays - Jazz & Prison Talk, 3:00-6:00 pm
Box 726, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie NY 12604-0726

June Schedule (subject to change)
Sunday, Jun 7 - Sean Pica and Ernest Henry (Formerly Incarcerated Husbands) Discuss Committed Relationships 'During and After' Prison - You Come Home... 'then what!?'  We need your input (see address below) 
Sunday, Jun 21 - Tom and Laura Lagana - Publishers of 'Chicken Soup for a Prisoner's Soul,' and New Book: 'Serving Productive Time'

SOUL SPECTRUM, WJFF Radio Catskill 90.5FM [www.wjffradio.org]
PO Box 546, Jeffersonville, NY 12748 Voice Box Call-in Comment Line: 845 431 6500
Every week on Thursday at 11pm, Liberty Green brings to the airwaves a stack of soul records and a whole lot more including "Silly Love Songs" and letters, some of which come from the many incarcerated men and women living in prisons in range of the station’s signal.

A NEWSROOM TO COVER THE DISENFRANCHISED VOICES IN HARLEM
From the NY Times, 5/18, NY Region section, by Jason Grant [

Excerpts:[Read the entire article here.]
Mr. [Joseph ‘Jazz’] Hayden, 68, calls himself a news junkie, but adds that what he sees or, more to the point, does not see on the news can be infuriating.

“There’s not enough air time for low-income communities and our issues and ideas,” he said as he leaned back into his newsroom’s couch, a small jade Buddha and gold chain hanging from his neck. “All they talk about is the middle class. They never look down. No one talks to us. They never ask my opinion.” During last year’s presidential campaign, he said, he “stayed virtually in a state of rage because the mainstream media. They talked with such arrogance and such certitude about what the American people felt.”

Determined to change that, at least on a local level, he and two other men last year invested $40,000 to start a news organization, Still Here Harlem Productions, that would, in the words of its mission statement, “cover every aspect of the community life of the marginalized and voiceless in Harlem,” which stretches, as Mr. Hayden is fond of saying, “from West 110th Street to Washington Heights, and river to river.”

Still Here’s half-hour videos began appearing on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network cable channel in September, and in February Mr. Hayden started a Web site, All Things Harlem, which posts video news reports and recordings of Harlem political, social and cultural events.

Mr. Hayden was born in Harlem, and though his current life revolves around television and the Internet, his earlier decades read like chapters in a crime novel. The son of a housecleaner who raised the family by herself, he was first locked up at 16, for heroin possession. He landed in Attica on another conviction (which he said was later overturned), for the attempted murder of a police officer, and he left right before inmates seized the prison. By the time he was in his 30s, he was running nightclubs and had become an associate of Nicky Barnes, the leader of one of the city’s largest heroin rings.

“To me, crime is a response,” Mr. Hayden said. “You play the hand you’re dealt in life. And the hand I was dealt was very harsh.”

Back in his newsroom, the huge television was still on and Mr. Hayden’s hands swept the air as he discussed how his vision was unfolding. “Everybody in the world knows about Harlem,” he said. “So I figured if I could limit my coverage, if I could just cover this community effectively, then I could build a model here.”



9. SHU BILL UPDATE: "THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND OFFICE OF MENTAL HEALTH’S POSTURE THAT THEY NEED TO SPEND FIVE MORE YEARS AFTER THE OPENING OF MARCY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY TO STUDY ITS OPERATION IS PUZZLING.”

New York State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Chairwoman of the Standing Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction and her Senate colleagues conducted a public hearing on March 17, 2009 to discuss the Governor’s proposal to delay the implementation of the Special Housing Unit (SHU) Exclusion Bill until 2014.

After over a decade of litigation, the SHU Exclusion Bill was signed into Law as Chapter 1 of 2008. As a result of the SHU Exclusion Bill and the DAI (Disability Advocates, Inc.) Court Approved Settlement, inmates diagnosed with serious mental illnesses would be moved from solitary confinement into residential mental health units (RMHU) under the auspices of the Department of Corrections (DOCS) and Office of Mental Health (OMH). The first of these facilities is to open at Marcy Correctional Facility in September 2009. However, due to New York State’s fiscal crisis, the Governor recommended in his Executive Budget Proposal for 2009-2010 to delay any further expansion.

The hearing focused on the SHU Exclusion Bill and the DAI Settlement and what the potential impact of delaying the implementation will mean to the seriously mentally ill.

"The motivating factor for pursuing the public hearing was to allow the public and persons with expertise relating to this issue the opportunity to weigh in on the proposed delay," said Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson. "We also heard from officials representing DOCS and OMH, and I am not convinced that this delay is appropriate and will have the least injurious impact on this population."

The participants included The Honorable Sol Wachtler, Retired Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals and Professor of Law at Touro Law School; Brian Fischer, Commissioner of the NYS Department of Correctional Services; Richard Miraglia, Deputy Commissioner of the NYS Office of Mental Health; Robert Corliss, Director of Forensic Services for the Mental Health Association of NY, Inc.; Pauline Magnetti of the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI); Nina Loewenstein, Staff Attorney, Disability Advocates, Inc.; Betsy Sterling, Director of Special Litigation and Projects, Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York; and Sarah Kerr, Staff Attorney, Prisoners’ Rights Project Legal Aid Society.

According to Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, "The Department of Corrections and Office of Mental Health’s posture that they need to spend five more years after the opening of Marcy Correctional Facility to study its operation is puzzling. They have already had fifteen years to analyze an appropriate mental health treatment and further, they failed to explain what more they expect to learn from Marcy."



10. TEMPORARY WORK RELEASE: PART 2 OF "PRISON RELEASE: WILDERNESS OR PROMISED LAND?", BY AARON TALLEY AND DON MASON (part one was published in the February 2007 issue of Building Bridges)

Part One started out:
A man is released from prison after serving 25 years. He was denied the opportunity to transition back into the reality of the work world; our high-tech society was confusing to him, and he did not have the resources to make a successful transition back into society because there was no temporary release program (education or work release). Within six months he was back in prison. Freedom to him had been the Wilderness not the Promised Land.

Another man came out of prison after serving 25 years. For him freedom was the Promised Land because he made a successful transition and was immediately contributing to society and his family again. He had worked the last two years of his sentence out in society, going back to a facility each evening of the week and had his weekends at home after six months of successful work release. He had saved enough money to help his family move out of public housing and had enough to pay off his family’s debts which they had accrued during his long incarceration. And he gained his self-respect and that of his family back.

It is three years later and we still don’t have work release for violent offenders.

Prior to the Wall Street melt-down, government bail out of many banks and the auto industry, unemployment and mortgage foreclosures at rates not seen since the Great Depression, New York State had more dollars allocated each year in their budget for DOCS ($2.7 billion) than they did for SUNY. The unfortunate fact is that's still true today.

In a 2007 DOCS report published under Commissioner Brian Fischer's name, "Temporary Release Program", statistics are presented that show the steady decline of participation in the TRP from 1995 when then Gov. Pataki gutted the program by eliminating violent offenders from participating, to 2007 when the study was conducted. From the DOC's own statistics, participation in 1995 was 17,953 and gradually decreased to 2,498 in 2007. The report goes on to state that "Despite the decrease in participation of temporary release, inmates, specifically work release and day reporting inmates, have earned $132,923,229.64, paid $36,425,650.05 in federal, state and local taxes, and saved $40,716,993.54 since 1995".

This begs the question, how much money would have been saved if program participation had not been limited? Well, according to the article "Work Release Could Provide Budget Relief", by Alan Rosenthal and Patricia Warth, the state would have had tax revenues of $7 million from the participants if the 1994 level was still in effect. With a $15 billion projected budget short-fall in this year, and the cutting of $385 million for human services it sure seems the 1994 level of participation should be re-instated.

The Governmental Education Organization at Mid-Orange suggests that despite the program’s success in part years, even more stringent qualification criteria be set up to allay the public’s concerns for safety. Please join us in writing your state representatives to encourage them to look at reforming and expanding work release, not just for the savings, but also so prisoners can reach the Promised Land.



11. TRANSPORTATION: CAPITAL DISTRICT
NEST Prison Shuttle schedule: Mt. McGregor, Washington, and Great Meadow CFs on Sat, Jun 6 ($35 adults, $25 children), Coxsackie, Greene, and Hudson on Sat, Jun 13  ($20  adults, $15 children) from Oakwood Ave Presbyt. Church parking lot, Troy at 7 AM, then to Albany Greyhound bus station at 7:15. Sullivan trip (Ulster, Eastern, Woodbourne, Sullivan) on Jun 27 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 has 3 volunteer drivers. 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


Building Bridges is a joint effort of Prison Action Network
and the FUUSA Justice Committee