POSTED 8/3/10 from the Campaign to End the Death Penalty
TUESDAY, August 2 @ 7 PM
A discussion on "Rampant Racism in the Criminal Justice System" by BILL QUIGLEY (read here:)
Also to be discussed: updates on the death row cases of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Troy Davis
...plus prison visits and other projects
St. Mary's Church of Harlem
521 West 126th Street (btw. Amsterdam & Broadway)
Sign the petition for Mumia! www.thepetitionsite.com/2/stand-with-mumia-abu-jamal.
Building Bridges July 15 2010 Edition
4 OUT OF 5 APPOINTMENTS TO PAROLE BOARD HAVE PROSECUTORIAL BACKGROUNDS [see Article #7]
HEAD OF PAROLE MEETS WITH SULLIVAN C.F. SECOND LOOK THINK TANK [see Article #6]
We think its time for a change in the makeup of the parole board. Senator Montgomery has already introduced Bill S1268A (see article 5) which would distribute the appointing authority of the state Board of Parole among the Governor, Senate, and Assembly. That's a start, but unless the qualifications for the board are also updated we don't see how things will change much. There must be a more balanced representation. How about a mental health professional with experience or training in post-traumatic stress syndrome, a defense attorney, a former inmate of a correctional facility, a former correction officer, a former resident of a division for youth secure center, a former employee of the division for youth who has directly supervised youth in a secure residential center? How about a parole board with representation from both prisoner and victim's advocacy groups, a psychologist, a doctor, an educator, a public defender... the list goes on. The current preponderance of former police officers and DAs [see article 7] is not conducive to fair and unbiased decisions.
Please be well, keep the faith, and share the news!
CONDOLENCES to all who knew and loved Bill Webber, the former and much loved president of the New York Theological Seminary. Bill died peacefully in his sleep at home on Saturday July 10. The family will hold a private service now, but plans to hold a public memorial service in New York later in the fall. There will also be a celebration of Bill's life in Sorrento, Maine on August 15, for those up in that part of the country.
We have lost a giant in theological education and a good friend of many of our readers. His legacy will be carried in the lives of those he touched while they were in prison and after.
1. Activities for Advocates - Statewide
2. Coalition for Fair Criminal Justice Policies: on 259-i progress.
3. Erie County Prisoners Rights Coalition
4. ICARE on celebrating independence
5. Legislation; one passed, one to go
6. Longtermers and Lifers' Clearinghouse on visit of Andrea Evans at Sullivan
7. Parole News: stats and bios of new parole board members
8. Prison Media
[For copies of any document, article or legislation referred to in an article in this issue, please send a request clearly stating name of the document and in which issue of Building Bridges it appeared]
1. WHAT CAN YOU DO? HERE’S A LIST OF ACTIVITIES
CALL AND EMAIL GOVERNOR PATERSON AND URGE HIM TO SIGN S4687/A8012, which gives those with criminal histories the RIGHT TO FIGHT ILLEGAL EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION by a public agency. Mention the bill number, S4687/A8012, at the beginning of your phone call, and in the subject line of your letter or email. For more information about the bill, visit the Legal Action Center.
The governor's address: David A. Paterson, State Capitol, Albany, NY 12224
Email: Gov. Patterson
PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR MAILING ADDRESS.
EMAIL YOUR ASSEMBLYMEMBER AND ALSO SPEAKER SHELDON SILVER TO URGE THE ASSEMBLY TO VOTE for ReDirect NY, a bill which would allow FUNDING INCENTIVES FOR JUVENILE ALTERNATIVE TO INCARCERATION PROGRAMS (ATI'S). ReDirect NY passed the Senate and must now pass the Assembly before going to Governor Paterson. For more information contact Gabrielle Prisco, Juvenile Justice Project Director, firstname.lastname@example.org.
SATURDAY JULY 24, NOON - 4PM COALITION FOR PAROLE RESTORATION (CPR) PAROLE WORKSHOP
CPR, in partnership with Prison Action Network and the Albany Social Justice Center will conduct an afternoon workshop on the preparation of a release plan (also called a Parole Packet).
Donation of $20 includes workshop, lunch, CPR's Parole Preparation Manual, a one year membership in CPR and the Deuce Club newsletter.
Registration required: please confirm attendance with Leeannette Ramos at 518-334-8735
Location: One Commerce Plaza, 99 Washington Ave., Suite 1900, Albany
MONDAY, JULY 26, 6:30-8:30PM PRISONERS ARE PEOPLE TOO MEETING
The next meeting of Prisoners Are People Too will take place on Monday, July 26, 2010. On that date, we will learn about the Altamont Program which has been in existence for more than four decades, helping substance abusers, the jobless, and the homeless across the state of New York. Parolees have also been the benefactors of this wonderfully successful program.
The Altamont Program exists in Buffalo, NY. Most residents are unaware of its presence and yet, the entire community benefits from the transitional housing, addiction treatment, and employment counseling that it provides. Our guest speaker will be Mr. Tom Green who manages Buffalo Altamont. The film being screened is "Free At Last," which describes Altamont's growth and success, under the leadership of its founder, Father Peter Young
Location: Pratt-Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt Street, Buffalo
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; email@example.com.
SATURDAY JULY 31 PEOPLE ASSISTING POSITIVE ACTIONS (P.A.P.A. )
Presents “Love Across America”, A family and friend day of unified Love
1) Unify our disenfranchised communities by bringing awareness to the prejudice, brutality and violence in our communities.
2) Bring awareness to the continual destruction in our communities that is committed by residents of that community.
3) Bring awareness to partial practice of our Justice System across America i.e. criminal and family courts decisions that continue to break up the family structure.
4) Change the policies in our social institutions across America that commit actions against the population and communities they were formed to protect and assist.
5) Establish a voting block on community orientated programs geared to build the infrastructure of the inner-city
THURSDAY, JULY 22, 5:30 – 7 PM COALITION FOR WOMEN PRISONERS COMMITTEE MEETING ON CONDITIONS & REENTRY
No Meetings in August
For more information contact Stacey Thompson, Women in Prison Project Coalition Associate at: (212)254-5700 ext. 333 or via email.
Location: All meetings are held at the Correctional Association of New York.
2090 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd., bet. 124th & 125th Streets, Suite 200.
Take the 2/3/A/C/B/D to 125th Street.
Metro cards available upon request for formerly incarcerated persons
who need help with transportation costs.
THURSDAY JULY 15TH AT 4:45PM THE FORTUNE SOCIETY'S DAVID ROTHENBERG CENTER FOR PUBLIC POLICY (DRCPP) IN PARTNERSHIP WITH LAGUARDIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE
CERTIFICATE OF RELIEF FROM DISABILITIES AND GOOD CONDUCT CLINIC
For formerly incarcerated people who need assistance with the application process. A Certificate can assist when looking for work or applying for an occupational license. It is considered as evidence of "rehabilitation."
For more information, or to RSVP, please contact Ismael Cedeno at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Location: The Fortune Society, 2nd Floor, 29-76 Northern Blvd. Long Island City, NY 11101
WEDNESDAY, JULY 21, 1:00 – 3:00PM NY REENTRY ROUNDTABLE
VINCENT SCHIRALDI, COMMISSIONER OF THE NYC DEPARTMENT OF PROBATION
Hosted by The Community Service Society of New York (CSS); kindly RSVP to Gabriel Torres-Rivera at email@example.com or call 212.614.5306
Location: 105 East 22nd Street , corner Park Avenue So., Conference Room 4A
Take the 6 or W/R trains to 23rd Street
SAVE THE DATES
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25TH, 9-5PM PRISON TO PROSPERITY FAIR
Are you formerly incarcerated and eager to learn how to build social networks? How to rely on your spirituality and community to get you through hard times? How to meet the challenge of occupational restrictions that are standing in your way? Find out how to tackle these and other issues in a range of informative workshops that will be offered at the Prison to Prosperity Fair.
Also featured will be information booths, plenary sessions on topics relevant to this population, and speakers, including successful formerly incarcerated men and women.
The Riverside Church Prison Ministry is spearheading the Prison to Prosperity Fair in order to help the formerly incarcerated reintegrate into society and have the successful lives they deserve. The fair is being held in collaboration with the Fortune Society, the Osborne Association, Exodus Transitional Community, Inc., and the Think Outside the Cell Foundation.
We encourage corporations, faith-based and community organizations, political leaders, government agencies and the general public to lend their support to this unique and important event with monetary or in-kind contributions.
For more information, to contribute, to sponsor an information table/booth, or to register, please call 877-267-2303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Location: The Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Drive, at W. 120th Street
SATURDAY OCTOBER 30, 2010, CITIZENS AGAINST RECIDIVISM, INC.
FOURTH ANNUAL CITIZENS AWARDS PROGRAM at the historic Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. NYS Senate President Malcolm A. Smith will be the keynote speaker. Nominations for the awards are now being accepted. Please contact Mika'il DeVeaux for details: email@example.com.
Location: 3940 Broadway (164th and Broadway)
2. COALITION FOR FAIR CRIMINAL JUSTICE POLICIES - REPORT ON PROGRESS OF PROPOSAL TO AMEND EXEC LAW §259-I.
There is no news on the status of our bill proposal. However we're using the time to meet with victim's groups to discuss the ways in which the criminal justice system has failed all of us.
We reached out to victims because we wanted to make sure they understood that it was not our intention to take anything away from the victims of crimes by limiting what content of a victim's impact statement can be used by the Parole Board in making their decisions. We simply want their statements to be based on post sentencing behavior - positive or negative - that the victims have experienced or observed from the offender, or perhaps that they have read about, that affects their safety. Since the beginning of our participation in criminal justice and prison reform work we have been asked by incarcerated men and women to bring victims to visit them in prison so that they can apologize and show their willingness to make restitution. We had never met victims who were interested in doing this. So we asked victims if we could meet with them, in place of the offenders. And in talking to them we've discovered we have more in common than not. Hopefully we will be collaborating with them on further refining our proposal for changing Exec. Law §259-i, the section that regulates Parole Board decisions, so that all of us may receive justice at the hands of the parole system..
Out of these discussions, we've discovered a book which might be a valuable resource for offenders who sincerely want to make amends. Offenders can read about what many victims want in Parallel Justice for Victims of Crime, by Susan Herman, published by The National Center for Victims of Crime, Washington DC, c2010.
Here are some quotes from the book: "first, victims need to be safe; second, they need to recover from the trauma of the crime; and third, they need to regain control of their lives." Just as we work to support offenders' reintegration, so does justice require that victims of crime must also be supported in their reintegration into productive community life. "If we limit our conception of justice for victims to the outcomes of the criminal justice process, the vast majority of crime victims will have no experience of justice." This is because "few victims make it through the courthouse door. Most reports of crime do not result in arrests, fewer lead to prosecutions, and fewer still produce convictions." Here's what offenders can do: "offenders can contribute to a victim's well-being in ways nobody else can, by acknowledging that they committed the crime. Such statements by offenders ...have tremendous value for victims, and are often greatly appreciated even in the absence of any other communication or action. ...a simple acknowledgment of responsibility, in and of itself, is a powerful statement affirming a victim's experience." Ms. Herman states that all victims deserve justice, whether the "crime was committed on the street, in a prison, a mental institution, a nursing home, or a homeless shelter. ...no matter whether the offender is an individual or a corporation, or whether the crime is a mugging or widespread corporate fraud."
3. THE ERIE COUNTY PRISONERS RIGHTS COALITION (ECPRC) CONTINUES TO MOVE FORWARD IN ITS EFFORTS TO SEE THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A COMMUNITY CORRECTIONS ADVISORY BOARD.
Given the well-documented evidence of county jail mismanagement, a board such as this is both needed and obviously desired by the community.
On May 18, 2010, at a public hearing in Old County Hall, nearly two dozen community groups spoke out in favor of a resolution to establish an advisory board as proposed by the Erie County Prisoners Rights Coalition. Two individuals spoke in favor of establishing an advisory board as defined by a local law created by Legislator Christina Bove. Bove’s local law failed to include the kind of community representation and input that the public desires.
In an effort to work with county government, the Erie County Prisoners Rights Coalition has taken the initiative to draft a compromise resolution, which it believes is a marriage of the best of Bove’s local law with the best of the resolution submitted by ECPRC two months ago.
At a meeting of the Legislature’s Community Enrichment Committee on Thursday, July 15 ECPRC advocated for its compromise resolution. Building Bridges will continue to follow this story.
4. ICARE COMMUNITY EDUCATOR JAFAR ABBAS IS STILL QUESTIONING IF THE FREEDOM AND INDEPENDENCE FOUGHT FOR IN THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE IS THE SAME AS THE FREEDOM AND INDEPENDENCE HE IS FIGHTING FOR AS A FORMERLY INCARCERATED PERSON.
The Fourth of July is celebrated as a day of freedom and independence from tyranny and oppression. The history behind the dazzling displays of fireworks put on across this country each year tells the stories of brave men and women who suffered, struggled and gave their lives for freedom. As I sat back watching the rockets red glare fill the sky I could not stop thinking about how much freedom has changed since 1776; about how this long awaited and newly won freedom was quickly monopolized (and enjoyed in full) by white males; how all others had to view it like in a museum, from behind thick protected glass. It took a long time to crack and finally break that glass. How beautiful it must have felt to watch freedom spill, soaking the feet of all Americans with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Days after the last celebratory fire cracker has popped, I am still questioning if the freedom and independence fought for in the War of Independence is the same as the freedom and independence I am fighting for as a formerly incarcerated person.
I question this because I have yet to feel the beauty of freedom soaking my feet. As a formerly incarcerated person yearning for life, liberty and pursuit of happiness I imagine the way those newly freed slaves must have felt when they were granted freedom. We both seem to have handled our emancipation in the same way; we celebrated freedom but didn’t feel it because deep inside we knew we were not free.
A few weeks ago I had a conversation with two people who had been on parole at one point in their lives. One had completed two years of parole and the other had been granted early release from life parole. I asked, “How does it feel to be free, to have all the prison and parole stuff behind you?” The silence that filled the once upbeat space made me wish I had not asked the question. The brother who had completed his two year parole term began to speak just as I concluded I had brought up the wrong topic. He said, “It was over for me when I found this job [drug counselor]. It allowed me to do something I had never been able to do - or do right, take care of my daughter.”
The brother who had been granted early parole release said, “When I sat down to see my PO he said, ‘I got good news for you.’ I thought he was approving a travel pass I had requested. ‘You’ve been released from parole as of today.’ I couldn’t say anything. A feeling came over me and as big as I am I cried like a baby. It took thirty-two years for this to come to an end, and the feeling is indescribable.” He took off his glasses, wiped the corners of his eyes and put them back on, saying, “Your turn coming soon, watch what I tell you--indescribable.”
Their stories allowed me to see that for some formerly incarcerated people their independence is tied tightly to their ability to provide for themselves and those who depend on them in a legal and meaningful way. This gives them both reason and meaning. Freedom on the other hand is indescribable and comes not by being granted parole, but instead by being released from it. This is when you are able to start living again.
Consideration for my early release from parole is coming soon. I am ready to live as a free man, which I have never done, and I am holding my breath waiting for the time when I can exhale knowing in my heart it is truly finally over.
[Jafar Abbas is available for speaking engagements. If your organization would like him to make a presentation on reentry issues, please send your request to I.C.A.R.E..]
5. LEGISLATION: ONE BILL HAS PASSED AND ONE IS GETTING CLOSE (WE HOPE)
PASSED: A5462 AUBRY / S 2233 MONTGOMERY: ADOPTION AND SAFE FAMILIES EXPANDED DISCRETION BILL - GOVERNOR PATERSON SIGNED IT INTO LAW! (Consider thanking him....see Article 1, first section for contact info.) Relates to the guardianship and custody of destitute or dependent children who have a parent or parents incarcerated or in a court ordered residential substance abuse treatment program. [see June issue for more details of bill]
A9834A AUBRY / S6725-A SCHNEIDERMAN: PRISON-BASED GERRYMANDERING BILL. DIRECTS PRISONER'S HOME ADDRESS BE USED TO DEFINE POLITICAL DISTRICTS. There is positive movement, and hope is still alive that this bill will make it into law this session. However there is no date currently set for the next session meeting. Session has been adjourned "to the call of the Temporary President".
6. LONGTERMERS AND LIFERS CLEARINGHOUSE: ON JUNE 22, 2010, MS. ANDREA W. EVANS, CEO OF THE NYS DIVISION OF PAROLE AND CHAIR OF THE BOARD OF PAROLE MET WITH THE EIGHT-MEMBER SECOND LOOK THINK TANK AT SULLIVAN CORRECTIONAL FACILITY.
It’s a New Day, by Joe Robinson
It was the first time that a sitting head of the Division visited a NYS prison to discuss the state of parole—to not only convey the Division’s intentions but, importantly, to seriously listen to the assessments and recommendations put forth by incarcerated men. The Parole Reform Conference was the brainchild of Second Look Think Tank, a Sullivan-based research, analysis and policy group, with coordinating efforts by Larry White, Prison Action Network member and criminal justice reform legend.
Chairwoman Evans was accompanied by Ms. Vanda R. Seward, Director of Statewide Reentry Services; Mr. Timothy O’Brien, Statewide Director of Facilities and PVU; Mrs. Mary Smith, Dep. Director of Field Parole Officers, and Mrs. Doris Cuevas, Special Assistant. Besides the eight Second Look members, those in attendance from Sullivan were the president and an active member of the Lifers & Long-Termers’ Committee; Dep. Supt. of Administration L. Lilley; Acting Dep. Supt. of Programs C. Karson; Facility Parole Officer II P. Johnson; L.U.O. Staff Advisor Father Stan, and at the behest of Supt. Walsh, three members of the Inmate Liaison Committee.
Chairwoman Evans emphasized that her ultimate goal is to change the culture of parole. But she acknowledged that this would not happen overnight. Ms. Seward said that the Division is working hard to achieve Chairwoman Evans’ goal, and that this effort would necessarily involve a range of stakeholders. Mr. O’Brien, who, at the Division level, was responsible for making the conference a reality—echoed his colleagues’ message: the Division is on a different course than it has been in the past.
Stanley Bellamy (Lifers & Long-Termers), the conference moderator, thanked Chairwoman Evans for honoring the group’s invitation to intelligently discuss the issue of parole reform. Second Look made it clear that they were not looking for a “get-out-of-jail-free” card. “We want fairness and objectivity in parole release decisions,” Joe Robinson stated. “And we want to mend the disconnect between how incarcerated and formerly incarcerated persons—and our loved ones—view the Division, and how the Division wants to be viewed. Essentially, what we’re talking about here is changing the paradigm from Parole as a re-sentencing body to Parole as an evaluative body; from Parole as punisher to Parole as a partner in the successful reintegration of the formerly incarcerated. Our task can only be accomplished by getting buy-in from all stakeholders: facility parole officers, parole board commissioners, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated persons, and field parole officers.”
Ms. Seward said, “It’s important to remember that the community is also a stakeholder. The community needs to know and understand their role in the reentry equation. All they see is victims. At the end of the day, the community needs to be educated on these issues.”
Mr. O’Brien added that these are tough economic times, but that the Division has already begun to implement new operational procedures, particularly in the area of field parole officers.
Bruce Bryant (Second Look) talked about the duties facility parole officers are supposed to perform versus the reality. He pointed out that incarcerated persons get to sit with a facility parole officer only once during their incarceration - a month or two prior to a parole board appearance. Thus the status reports “prepared” for the board do not reflect a well-rounded profile of the person appearing before the board. In fact, the status reports are often indistinguishable from each other, Mr. Bryant said, and they seldom spell out positive accomplishments.
Chairwoman Evans acknowledged inadequacies in the area of facility parole officers. “I’d love to have ten facility parole officers in each prison,” she said, “but the budget simply doesn’t allow for it. We’re working on implementing a Transition Accountability Plan, which will go a long way in helping FPOs do a more effective job.”
Mr. William Holmes (Second Look) pointed out that “when someone appears before the parole board for whom the general consensus amongst incarcerated persons and DOCS staff alike is that the person is clearly rehabilitated and ought to be released is denied parole, it shakes the faith and confidence that [all of us] have in the Division. This is a fact.”
The conference also explored risk assessments. Joe Robinson pointed out that the perceived risk to public safety posed by an incarcerated person’s release—a perception shaped by the media and some legislators—is too often mistaken for actual risk to public safety. He noted that A-1 VFOs have the lowest recidivism rate of all offenders, and yet the parole board repeatedly denies them parole. “At $50k a year to incarcerate each person in a state prison, each 24-month ‘hit’ costs taxpayers $100k per person,” he said. He suggested that the Division implement a weighted risk assessment tool for parole consideration.
Chairwoman Evans referred to a risk assessment tool called COMPAS that field parole officers are currently using. She said the Division also intends to implement a TAP (Transition Accountability Plan) in the near future, contingent on the 2010-11 FY budget.
Ms. Seward acknowledged that public opinion about crime weighs heavily in parole determinations. “Victimization doesn’t have a dollar sign,” she said. “For some people $50k a year to incarcerate a person convicted of a crime is a worthy investment.” She said that to her knowledge, there’s been no research conducted on how the community as a whole feels about releasing certain VFOs.
Mr. O’Brien mentioned that the Division has in fact instituted a risk assessment tool as a pilot project, at its Erie County Reentry Facility.
On the issue of the Division’s Guidelines Application Manual, Mr. Ometrius Perez (Second Look) highlighted the fact that the manual, which is consulted prior to making parole decisions, hasn’t been revised since 1985. He stressed its static nature: only two factors - one’s instant offense and past criminal history (which cannot change) are to be decisive. He used his personal academic accomplishments, including earning a master’s degree while in prison, to bring home the point that the manual ought to be revised.
Chairwoman Evans acknowledged that the Division needs to work on this area but bluntly said that it would be at least a year before the manual would be revised. Mr. O’Brien agreed, noting that while important, the manual was not a top priority. He said he was very impressed with the white paper based on the manual that was referenced by Mr. Perez, and stated that he would definitely read it in its entirety when he returned to Albany.
Ms. Seward urged people not to give up, to continue building a strong portfolio and release plan. She encouraged the men in attendance to educate the rest of the men incarcerated at Sullivan. Mr. Rafael Torres (Second Look) responded by pointing out that several parole related classes have been offered in the recent past, but because so much confidence has been lost in the Division, many people don’t sign up for such classes.
Some other highlights:
*Reentry: “When does reentry begin?” the Chairwoman asked. Some of the men in attendance responded that it begins at arrest, to which the chairwoman responded, “Reentry begins at sentencing.”
*Parole Board Commissioners: Chairwoman Evans pointed out that she does not appoint parole board commissioners. “The Governor does,” she said. She noted that each commissioner brings to the job their individual beliefs, politics and other characteristics. (The chairwoman cannot direct a commissioner to grant or deny parole; in making release determinations, the commissioners are invested with broad discretion by the state legislature.)
*Language: Ms. Seward stressed that, in describing themselves, incarcerated persons should consciously use language that presents them in the best light. “You need to use language that humanizes you, that emphasizes your accomplishments, your goals and release plans. Presentation is key,” she said.
The conference concluded with a commitment to keep the conversation going between the Division of Parole and the Second Look Think Tank. Indeed, it’s a new day!
7. PAROLE NEWS: SUMMARY OF THE SENATE HEARING TO CONFIRM PAROLE BOARD NOMINEES; BIOS OF FOUR NEWLY APPOINTED MEMBERS AND ONE REAPPOINTMENT (LEMONS), AND OF FIVE CURRENT MEMBERS; MAY 2010 PAROLE RELEASE STATISTICS
What was most disturbing about the hearings was Senator Goldin's behavior, in particular when he asked each nominee if they would vote to release a person who killed a police officer, and then followed it by asking for their personal opinion about ever releasing someone who killed a police officer. Of course all the applicants knew that they would have to say they would follow the law and make their decisions on a case by case basis, and so they all did so. Nevertheless Senator Goldin persisted in trying to get them to say they would never release nor would they want to release a person who had killed a police officer. One can only assume he did this as his way of making a very clear statement that if they do not agree with him that "cop killers" should never be released from prison, he will make sure they get treated by him and his friends at the NY Post and the Daily News in the same abusive manner as they treated Grant and Loomis when they voted twice to release Shu'aib Raheem.
The Senate standing Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction, Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Chair confirmed the following members to the parole board; their bios (with the exception of Henry Lemons) come from their self introductions to the Committee (which on the video are difficult to hear so there may be omissions and minor errors), and when available, from the internet:
Richard J. Clarke: Grew up in Manhattan and the Bronx, where he attended high school, went to boro college, majored in business. In 1981 joined NYC police dept. where for 26 years he supervised a task force on gun running. Retired in 2007 to work as head of security for parks and recreation. video of his hearing
Henry Lemons was not present. He was not replaced when his 2007 appointment to fill an unexpired term came to an end in 2008, so he was now formally appointed to serve out the remaining 4 years of the new 6 year term. The parole website tells us he served from 2004 to 2007 as Deputy Chief Investigator for the New York State Attorney General. Prior to that , he was the Assistant Chief Investigator for the Kings County District Attorney. He is a former Sergeant and Detective with the New York City Police Department. He also served for four years of active duty with the United States Air Force. Mr. Lemons earned his bachelor’s in criminal justice and planning from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and his master’s in organizational leadership from Mercy College. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. Mr. Lemons was raised in the Bedford – Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn and Queens, where he still resides.
Edward Sharkey: Education: SUNY at Buffalo, B.A., Mathematics, 1968; SUNY at Buffalo, School of Law, J.D., 1977, Employment: District Attorney, 1998-Present; Personal Injury Litigation, 1984- 1997, Olean, NY; Erie County District Attorney's Office, 1977-1984. Appointed by Cattaraugus County Legislature to Criminal Justice Coordinating Advisory Council; served on Cattaraugus County Arson Task Force, the Alternatives to Incarceration Advisory Committee's Sexual Assault Advisory Panel. Served in the Airforce during the Vietnam War. Created a victim's advocacy agency in Cattaraugus County.
Lynn Anne Tabbott: S.I. native, attended Fordham and Bklyn Law School, worked for the Bklyn DA's office. Domestic Violence Coordinator. Worked for the NYS Attorney General's office where she prosecuted white collar crimes and defended Parole Board decisions. Practiced as a Criminal Defense Attorney; served as a local court judge in night court in Orange County.
Seny Taveras, from Brooklyn; attended Hofstra University's School of Law, then John Jay. Worked for NYC Human Resources Dept. as an investigator. Worked for law firm on L.I.; as a legislative aid in a Senate minority office where she dealt with constitutional issues and helped constituents navigate the legal system. Appointed by Spitzer to work as a special assistant to the deputy secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security.
The Governor has withdrawn a previous recommendation to reduce the number of parole commissioners from 19 to 13. Prior to the new appointments there were 16 commissioners on the Board of Parole, including the Chair, Andrea Evans, who so far has not sat on any Release Boards that we know of.
Grant resigned at the end of his term, Loomis's term has expired but she has not left, four new members have been appointed, and one (Lemons) has been appointed to a second term. If Ms Evans is counted, that will bring us to 19 seated Parole Board Commissioners. In addition to the above bios of the new members, here are the bios of some of the remaining commissioners:
Mary Ross: staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society in Queens, executive director of Providence House, a nonprofit corporation that provides transitional and permanent housing for female ex-offenders, homeless women and their children; the campus minister at Queens College; the director of administrative services at the Diocese of Brooklyn;. She has a bachelor’s degree in education from St. Joseph’s College, master’s in education from Brooklyn College and JD from the City University of New York.
Joseph Crangle: assistant court analyst with the NYS Office of Court Administration, assigned to the Domestic Violence Part of the Buffalo City Court where he monitored defendant’s compliance with court orders; a probation officer with the Genesee County Probation Department, where he oversaw the Pretrial Release Under Supervision program. Mr. Crangle has a bachelor’s degree from Canisius College and his JD from the City University of New York.
Michael A. Hagler: more than 30 years in law enforcement: senior investigator with the Office of the New York State Attorney General, conducting investigations into environmental and computer crimes, money laundering, gambling and narcotics in the Rochester region; member of the Metro Rochester Firearms Suppression Unit (Project Exile), security detail for then Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in upstate NY; investigator sergeant with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office supervising various units within the department’s Criminal Investigation Division, the department’s liaison with all local, state and federal law enforcement agencies as well as community groups.
Lisa Beth Elovich: administrative law judge at the NYS Office of Children and Family Services; lawyer in the Attorney General’s Office and in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
Sally A. Thompson: 20 distinguished years with the NYC Police Department, as a detective in the department, investigating violent crimes and making numerous felony and misdemeanor arrests; five years in the Bronx Narcotics/Major Case Division, conducting complex criminal investigations that included surveillance and undercover operations; active member of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Detective Endowment Association.
Out of the 10 whose bios are listed, 9 have prosecutorial backgrounds. We call for balance! The Parole Board is charged with making decisions about rehabilitation and readiness to rejoin society, not to investigate and convict. How does prosecutorial experience prepare them for this responsibility? We can see one or two, but almost 50% is unquestionably excessive. And for all we know the other 9 members have prosecutorial backgrounds as well. [If anyone knows, please share the information].
MAY 2010 PAROLE BOARD RELEASES – A1 VIOLENT FELONS – DIN #s through 1999
[unofficial research from parole database]
TOTAL INTERVIEWS........# RELEASED....# DENIED....RATE
146 Total.................................36.............110......... 25%
MAY INITIAL RELEASES
Mid Orange....................25-Life..........Murder 2
Mid Orange....................23-Life..........Murder 2
Mid Orange....................20-Life..........Murder 2
Otisville..........................15-Life......... Murder 2
FACILITY...... SENTENCE............ OFFENSE... # OF BOARD
Elmira...................... 15-Life......... Att M 1........... 2nd
Elmira...................... 25-Life......... Murder 2...... 3rd
Fishkill..................... 15-Life......... Murder 2...... 8th
Fishkill..................... 21-Life......... Murder 2...... 4th
Fishkill..................... 15-Life......... Murder 2...... 2nd
Gouverneur............. 20-Life......... Murder 2...... 5th
Greenhaven............ 25-Life......... Murder pre-74......... 7th
Greenhaven............ 20-Life......... Murder 2...... 4th
Mid Orange............. 15-Life......... Murder 2...... 4th
Mid Orange............. 25-Life.......... Murder 2...... 6th
Mid Orange............. 20-Life.......... Murder 2...... 4th
Mid Orange............. 25-Life.......... Murder 2...... 2nd
Mid Orange............. 25-Life.......... Murder 2...... 2nd
Mid Orange............. 15-Life.......... Murder 2...... 3rd
Mid Orange............. 15-Life.......... Murder 2...... 4th
Mid Orange............. 25-Life.......... Murder 2...... 2nd
Mid Orange............. 20-Life.......... Murder 2...... 4th
Mid Orange............. 25-Life.......... Murder 2...... 7th
Otisville.................... 15-Life.......... Murder 2...... 8th
Otisville.................... 15-Life.......... Murder 2...... 3rd
Otisville.................... 15-Life.......... Murder 2...... 7th
Sing Sing................. 20-Life.......... Murder 2...... 6th **
Southport................. 23-Life.......... Murder 2...... 7th
Southport................. 20-Life.......... Murder 2...... 6th
Southport................. 15-Life.......... Att Mur.1....... 2nd
Sullivan.................... 25-Life.......... Murder pre-74......... 3rd
Sullivan.................... 1 ?-Life......... Kidnap 1...... Unknown Rescind & release
Wende..................... 25-Life.......... Murder pre74.......... 7th
Woodbourne........... 15-Life.......... Murder 2...... 2nd
Wyoming................. 18-Life.......... Murder 2...... 6th
**Special Consideration/De Novo hearing
RELEASE REPORTS FROM PRISON: (Please note that the following statistics are not limited to people convicted of A1 Violent felonies - but they all are people with indeterminate sentences)
June - Greene, Hagler, Grant (chair)
Appearances: 24 (4 were A1 Lifers)
Releases: 4 (1 was A1 Lifer)
June - Grant, Ross, Crangle
Releases: 13 (5 were A1 Lifers)
A reader asked whether we have any data regarding the release rates for A-1's with and without LCTA certificates. We don't. If there are any readers who do, we'd be happy to publish the information. Please send to Prison Action Network.
8. PRISON MEDIA - ALL THINGS HARLEM, FANCY BROCCOLI, ON THE COUNT, SOUL SPECTRUM
ALL THINGS HARLEM - Visit us on the websites below.
The People's Voice! Joseph Jazz Hayden, CEO
Still Here Harlem Productions, Inc. 212-694-2887
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
Fancy Broccoli streams online - go to www.WVKR.org and click on (or near) the word 'LISTEN'.
Visit archives to find lots of other good interviews.
ON THE COUNT, WBAI, 99.5FM. - Criminal Justice & Prison Report, a radio program produced by formerly incarcerated people. Airs Saturdays 10:30am-noon. To listen live on your computer, visit www.wbai.org. To listen later, visit their archives.
SOUL SPECTRUM WITH LIBERTY GREEN, WJFF Radio Catskill 90.5FM - Thursday evenings from 10pm to 1:30am. PO Box 546, Jeffersonville, NY 12748 Voice Box Call-in Comment Line: 845 431 6500 To listen on your computer, live, click here: www.wjffradio.org; or here to send an email
Building Bridges is the monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network.
For information on joining, please call 518 253 7533, or write us at PrisonActionNetwork@gmail.com