Building Bridges

The monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

JUNE 2012

POSTED 7/13  by Prison Action Network
Latest Update to the Parole Board appointments (listed below)

Parole's website ( (as of 7/13) has not added the newly appointed members, but it has removed Greenan and Lemons. (The Black and Puerto Rican Caucus are protesting the removal of the latter, the sole Black male member of the Board.)  Ludlow (who was reappointed) and Smith (who so far has not been reappointed), remain on the list  with their expired dates (6/18/11 and 7/6/11 respectively.)

POSTED 6/22 by Prison Action Network
Solitary Confinement
Main topic of this morning's Democracy Now! 

A very moving and graphic story of the horrors of his experience in solitary confinement is told by former Texas death row prisoner Anthony Graves, an eloquent spokesperson for ending solitary confinement.

POSTED 6/20 by Prison Action Network
Governor Cuomo Appoints 6 Parole Board Commissioners
Senate Standing Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction
Senator Michael F. Nozzolio, Chair
Met on Wednesday, June 20 without any prior notice (We had been checking the website all morning; and then the meeting was more than an hour late in starting.  On top of that, it was in a room with poor acoustics and was poorly recorded.)  

The following report is limited in accuracy and length by what I could hear from the live streaming video on the Committee's website.  If we can find a transcript or the nominees' written statements, we will publish them in the future.  Corrections by those who were there or could hear better are welcomed.
The committee confirmed all 6 of the following nominations by the Governor; three of them were reappointments.  Gallivan had worked with 3 of the 6 previously.  Senator Hassell-Thompson voted no on all but Christina Hernandez and told the Committee she had done so to express her dissatisfaction with the Governor's lack of Black and Hispanic nominations despite the overwhelming majority of those groups in prison. 

Ellen Evans Alexander,  Rhode Island AG's office, R.I. DOCS
 Assistant Director for Administration for 12 years and Chief Legal Counsel for six years.  Chief assistant county attorney in Binghamton, NY. 

James B. Ferguson, Jr, reappointment.  Sen. Gallivan (former Parole Commissioner) commented on his positive perception of Mr. Ferguson when they both were commissioners.)

Christina Hernandez,  reappointment.  Sen. Gallivan (see above) said that with her Social Work Background she had brought a fresh perspective to the Parole Board.

G. Kevin Ludlow, reappointment (3rd term).  Nozzolio asked his opinion on GEDs for prisoners.  Ludlow said they were an important criteria along with many other standards of measurement

Edward M. Sharkey, from Olean,  attended Buffalo Law school, Air Force, 14 years in private law practice, 3 terms in DA's office. (Nozzolio commented that his appointment showed the governor understood that a law enforcement career is good preparation for the duties of a Parole Commissioner) (Rivera voted against, along with Hassell-Thompson.)

Marc A. Coppola,  former NYS Senator (for about 7 months), member of City Council of Buffalo NY, formerly worked with Div. of Parole and as a liaison with the Parole Board.  (He had worked on the Board's application for Accreditation.) In Buffalo he had worked as Deputy Sheriff (under Sen. Gallivan who was the Erie County Sheriff at that time).  (Rivera voted against, along with Hassell-Thompson)


Dear Reader, 
Let’s face the facts. There’s a war going on in the NYS legislature over criminal justice practices and policies.  Proposed bills are a major part of the arsenal. [see Articles 5 and 9]  To think otherwise is to ignore reality.  One side, mostly Republicans, wants to increase the numbers of people in NYS prisons and the length of their sentences,.and to keep anyone who killed a law enforcer in prison forever (which actually is current practice; those people already receive Life Without Parole).  The other side wants to end mass incarceration, which more and more people see as a racist tool bent on eliminating people of color from the political process, sweeping up (mostly poor) whites in the process); they propose restorative justice to replace punitive justice as our state’s primary response to crime.  Many legislators fall somewhere in between.  The Republicans tend to stick together as a solid block.  The Democrats do not.
Looking back, we see that this war was declared on January 15, 2008 with the "Hearing To Examine the Increase in Parole Release Rates for Violent Felons in the New York Correctional System" called by Senator Nozzolio and the Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections Committee. 
At that hearing Republican members made the following accusations, demands and questions, some by innuendo, others very directly: 
*  Judges and parole officers should have no discretion and lawyers are an annoyance.  
*  To ever release a “cop killer” would be a crime.
*  Why should ANY murderer be allowed out? 
*  The Parole Board is soft on crime.
*  24 months should be the minimum hit, and longer is preferable.
*  The Parole Board chair has too much power.
*  The Parole Board is influenced by fear of court decisions.
*  Pressure of litigation has diminished the consideration of the crime.
*  We don’t want to let murderers back into the community.
*  There aren't enough people working in parole to really do a good job.  
*  We can't let criminals think they have some kind of an edge. 
*  Anyone who will kill a police officer will kill anybody.
*  NY City has a different sensibility.
*  The anxiety of citizens and victims must be alleviated. 
*  We will continue to investigate until we get to the bottom of this.
Senator Alesi warned us:  “ I hope there isn't a trend of letting murderers back into the community.  If there is we will look for a corrective.” 
Senator Nozzolio reminded us:  We have the reconfirmation (right to overrule the Governor’s appointments to the Board of Parole) authority in the Senate.  Following the hearing we overheard Senator Nozzolio tell a reporter,  “They say they are following the law.  If that’s true then we will change the law!
Looking back we realize the hearing was a declaration of war.  Since then the war has proceeded:
After Paterson appointed 4 Parole Commissioners in 2010, the Republicans in the Senate’s Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee interrogated them relentlessly, demanding they state that they would never vote to release a person who had killed someone, especially a law enforcement officer.  None of the candidates would say that, as it would be disobeying the law.  No one was approved, and therefore no one was appointed. But any parole commissioners up for reappointment could read the writing on the wall.[Could this possibly be why Cuomo has not made any appointments?  Perhaps he’s waiting to see how the 2012 State elections turn out?  That’s up to us, you realize!  Get out and vote, and make sure all your friends and family do also.  Don’t sign any primary petitions unless the candidate pledges to take a stand against oppressive tactics to intimidate potential and acting parole commissioners]
In the 2012 Legislative session, we’ve been following the activities of the Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections Committee.  As readers know, there are 14 members, 8 Republican, 6 Democrat.  At every meeting the Republicans get their bills passed.  No Democrat’s bill has.  In fact most of them have disappeared into Dean Skelos’s Rules Committee, where their fate is unknown. Almost all the bills that have passed would increase the restrictions and punishments placed on violent felons and sex offenders.  Mostly sex offenders, because no one feels sympathetic to sex offenders (due to an ignorance about the actual acts of some sex offenders, like a 17 year old who has sex with his consenting 16 year old girlfriend and her parents press charges, or a person charged of rape by his/her bitter spouse or lover in revenge for leaving the relationship.).  But rest assured.  Once these restrictions are imposed on sex offenders, they will quickly be applied to the next most despised criminal class, and eventually apply to all criminals.  Believe me, we all could get caught up in that net.  All that has to happen is they pass a law against something we should engage in, like speak truth to power.  (Oh, we forgot, there are some readers out there who already are in prison for doing that...)

Which side are
you on?  Please don’t just be an observer!  
The Editor

Index of Articles
  1.   Attica, mass incarceration, solitary confinement, freeing Mumia and others are on the agenda for September 14th event.    
  2.   Carl Berk’s daughter is writing a memoir of her father and would welcome any information you can provide    
  3.   Call for stories to be included in WORTH’s Guidebook for women returning home from prison and jail    
  4.   Cornell University confers Bachelor’s degrees on 14 students confined at Auburn prison    
  5.   Domestic Violence Legislation is being obstructed by Senate Republicans   
  6.   Family Empowerment Day 5 is coming to the Buffalo-Niagara Region in October   
  7.   Geriatric Parole Release bill passed by Assembly’s Correction Committee    
  8.   Jeffry Descovic uses settlement money to help others wrongfully convicted    
  9.   Legislation: three pages of bills, most of them tabled for now-    
  10.   Parole Reform Campaign: SAFE Parole Act gains more sponsors after legislative advocacy/action days.  Open letter to the Governor    
  11.   Parole News - Expired terms and April parole releases    
  12. Prisoner Justice Network reports on their May 22 Prison and Parole Justice Day     
  13. Raise the age of criminal responsibility in NYS to 18. The Center for Community Alternatives and the NY Reentry Roundtable host discussions in June    
  14. Restoring Justice in America retreat offers scholarships to their weekend symposium in Greenwich N.Y.    
  15. Transportation Service starts up in Albany     
[Please email your requests for any bills or articles that are not printed in full with the month and  the number of the article}
1.  Shut down Attica and End Solitary Confinement! 
SAVE THE DATE!   Friday September 14 at Riverside Church in Manhattan
End Mass Incarceration!
Free Mumia and all our political prisoners!
Participants:  Michelle Alexander, Angela Davis, Marc Lamont Hill, Juan Mendez (video) and Cornell West (video) and others to be announced.
2.  Carl Berk Remembered
From a man we knew only from a few letters, a friend and a father have emerged.  Recently his daughter Paula sent us a letter:
“I read that you are looking for information about my father, Carl Berk.  I'm glad to know he was missed by someone other than family.   He had a heart attack and died at CVPH in Plattsburgh.  We buried him in Buffalo in the plot he purchased years ago.  It was his wish that he be buried there near his friends from B'Nai Brith in an Orthodox ceremony.  For the last five years, I have been working on a memoir about my father and how his incarceration affected me. I welcome any information regarding my father you can share with me.”   If readers send information to Prison Action Network, we will gladly pass it on.
3.  Call for stories
Women On the Rise Telling HerStory (WORTH) is creating a WORTH Guidebook for women returning home from prison and jail. We are looking for women who will want to tell brief stories about an obstacle they may have encountered during their own transition, or an agency that was of vital assistance, and will help to develop and/or edit the written piece for inclusion in the guidebook. To participate in the project, contact: Carole Eady, Co-chair of WORTH at 917-232-8464 or, or, Barbara Barron, WORTH Intern at 646-918-6858 or

4.  Cornell University Brings Pride Back to Auburn Correctional Facility
    On June 5, 2012, Auburn Correction Facility presented a commencement ceremony not seen since the early 90’s, back when Pell grants propelled Syracuse University and Cayuga Community College to teach behind the walls of the prison.  This memorable event, all supported by private donations, presented 15 students with Bachelor degrees from Cornell University in conjunction with Cayuga Community College.  Assembled within the facility were State officials, Cornell and Cayuga faculty and instructors, volunteers, students and family members for an official ceremony, complete with bagpipes presenting the alma mater .
     Such a ceremony was not even a dream to students sitting in on those nights with Doc Wetherbee who taught English classes at Auburn C. F..  A retired Professor Emeritus of English, Pete Wetherbee, upon his own volition, taught a small night class to students who received no college credit.  The course was to simply help the men write and understand English better.  Known to the students as “Doc”, Professor Wetherbee watched his single class double, then triple, as other colleagues volunteered as well.  To those students at Auburn, Doc was a hero who believed in them during a time when it was difficult to find anyone to notice.
     Eventually, in 1999, Cornell began offering the students credit for the classes they completed.  Then everything changed when Professor of Government, Mary Katzentstein, secured a private donation from Doris Buffet’s Sunshine Lady Foundation, opening the way for a full time Bachelor program to blossom.  Because of Doris Buffet, this ceremony could present the following graduates with their degrees: Saifuddin Abdus-Samad, Kenneth J. Brown, Ricardo O. Callender, Michael S. Hale, Michael A. Johnson, Richard D. Johnson, Gary A. LaRocca, Etheraige Pierce, Michael Rhymes, Danny A. Rincon,  Jacob R. Russell, Christopher M. Shapard, Derek E. Slade, Eric P. Whitfield, and Cyril N Winebrenner.
     What once began as a lone class with no official title, taught by a retired professor for the sake of helping men become better in life, enduring years of hard work and effort, and culminating in the praise from speakers such as the Commissioner of Corrections, Brian Fischer, Senior Vice Provost at Cornell, Ronald Seeber , Harold Graham, Superintendent and philanthropist Doris Buffet, Auburn Correctional Facility presented a truly remarkable event.  Knowing that most prisoners return home to society, it can be said that society as well has been enriched.

Attended and written by Raymond Roe, Ex-student/prisoner
5.  Domestic Violence Protection Forum
On May 30, the Senate Democratic Conference held a public forum on the need to provide additional protections for those affected by domestic violence. The forum was convened to highlight legislation sponsored by members of the Democratic Conference which the Senate Republican Majority has refused to move out of committee and bring to the floor for a vote. Attendees at today’s forum included Democratic Senators as well as activists, legislators and criminal justice professionals.  
“Ending domestic violence and reforming our state’s criminal justice system should not be a partisan issue,” said Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, who presided over the forum. “ I call on the Senate Republicans to respond to today’s forum by advancing these pieces of legislation and bringing them all to the floor for a vote.” 
A focus of the forum was the urgent need to reform the state’s criminal justice system to protect the rights and dignity of domestic violence victims and provide them with greater safeguards against their abusers. The Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act would provide judges with the discretion to sentence domestic violence survivors convicted of crimes related to the abuse they suffered to shorter prison terms. Legislation, (S.1489), has also been proposed to provide judges with the discretion to impose the use of global positioning devices as a condition of release under certain circumstances. Bills to extend the statute of limitations on domestic violence offenses, ensure those accused of domestic violence are not given access to firearms or their victims were also discussed at the forum. 
Senators Toby Ann Stavisky, José Peralta, Velmanette Montgomery, Suzi Oppenheimer, Adriano Espaillat, Kevin Parker, Shirley Huntley, Michael Gianaris, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Tim Kennedy, Daniel Squadron, Liz Kruger, Tony Avella, Gustavo Rivera and Bill Perkins all spoke strongly in support of these legislative protections for victims of domestic violence.
By far the most moving speakers were two domestic violence survivors, now advocates with the Coalition for Women Prisoners, Kim Dadou and Lady Kathryn Williams.
Ms. Dadou told the senators, “I was a victim before I was a defendant. I spent years being abused by my boyfriend and then, when I protected myself, I was sent to prison for 8 1/3 to 25 years. I was denied parole five times and spent 17 years in prison. The court system is supposed to protect you and instead it was turned against me. Prison is not a place for a woman who has been dehumanized by her abuser to rebuild herself. I share my story in support of the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, to help all of those women who remain locked up, and to change the system that failed to protect me. It is essential so that women don’t lose years of their lives like I did.” 
Lady Kathryn Williams said she “was arrested for protecting myself after years of abuse. The DA in my case ultimately agreed to let me plead guilty to a lower offense and five years probation supervised by STEPS to End Family Violence. STEPS was critical in helping me recover, rebuild my self-esteem and improve my quality of life. I am not saying I or anyone else should be exempt from responsibility but please take into consideration what led to that crime. To be sent to prison for protecting yourself is like being re-victimized. Love should not hurt. Love, kindness and respect, these should be the main values that guide our society, and the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act can help orient the criminal justice system in that direction.” 
Many other advocates spoke: William Gibney, Director of the Criminal Practice Special Litigation Unit at the Legal Aid Society, Jonathan E. Gradess, Executive Director of the New York State Defenders Association, Kristin Brown Lilley, Director of Policy Advocacy for the Empire Justice Center, Sandra Park, Chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Domestic Violence Committee, Lisa A. Frisch, Executive Director of The Legal Project in Albany, Jennifer Ching, Director of Queens Legal Services, an affiliate of Legal Services NYC, Nancy Goldhill, Director of the Staten Island Legal Services, CarlLa Horton, Executive Director of Hope’s Door NY.
6.  Family Empowerment Day 5 is in the planning stage!
SAVE THE DATE!   Friday October 5th and Saturday October 6!
Family Empowerment Day has moved to the Buffalo-Niagara Region for the second time in its history.  (There were 3 FED 3s in 2007, and one was in Buffalo.)  This year Ebony Magazine’s 2012 “Couple of the Year”, Rufus and Jenny Triplett of Powder Springs GA will be the guest speakers and set the tone of the all-day conference on Saturday.  It will be preceded by a Press Conference and a book signing on Friday.
Currently being organized by Prisoners Are People Too, Inc., Concerned Citizens of Niagara, and Prison Action Network.  Contact: Karima Amin, 716 834 8438, for more information, and keep watching Building Bridges for monthly progress reports.
7.  Geriatric Parole Release Bill is Introduced and Passed by Assembly’s Correction Committee
A.9696 the NYS Program for Older Prisoners Act  [No same as]
March 27, 2012 Introduced by M. of A. Aubry, Lentol, Millman
Provides geriatric parole release to an inmate who is at least sixty years of age, is serving a determinate or indeterminate sentence of imprisonment, and has served at least one-half of the minimum period of his or her indeterminate sentence, or in the case of a determinate sentence, has served at least one-half of the term of his or her determinate sentence,  provided, however, that no inmate serving a sentence imposed upon a conviction for murder in the first degree or an act of terrorism shall be eligible for such geriatric parole release.   Such release shall be granted only after the board considers whether there is a reasonable probability that, if released, the inmate will live and remain at liberty without violating the law, and that such release is not incompatible with the welfare of society and will not so deprecate the seriousness of the crime as to undermine respect for the law.

Jeffrey Descovic Foundation for Justice
He served 16 years in prison based upon a coerced false confession and despite the existence of exculpatory DNA evidence.  Four and a half years after being exonerated and released, Mr. Descovic received  a $6.5 million settlement with Westchester County. 
He wants you to know he’s “seeking to turn my dream of exonerating the wrongfully convicted in both DNA and Non-DNA cases into reality.  I have committed a substantial part of my compensation to launch The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice, which will also raise awareness, seek legislative changes, and help with reintegration."  
Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice, Battle Wrongful Convictions, 133 W 72nd St. NYC 10023  (212) 362-3072 

9.  Legislation:  Dozens of criminal justice bills were introduced at the Senate and Assembly Committee meetings.
In order to become a law, a bill must have sponsors in both houses and be presented to and passed by the Senate and Assembly, after which the governor must sign it.  Most of “our” bills start in the Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee and the Assembly Correction Committee.  Each committee has 3 options, 1. to Report or Refer (which means move a bill forward to another committee, such as Rules or Finance, from which the bill may be presented to the floor for a vote),  2. Not to Report (which kills the bill for this session),  or 3. Held for further discussion).  [Decisions are listed at the end of each bill's description.]
The Senate Standing Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction, Sen. Michael F. Nozzolio, Chair, had 2 meetings since our last issue:  Tuesday May 15 and Thursday, May 31.
May 15, Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee: 
S.1861   Sponsor: Lavalle, Co-sponsor(s): Larkin, Nozzolio, O’Mara, Ranzenhofer, Young [No same as bill] 
This bill would extend the number of months from twenty-four to sixty as the time within which the parole board must set for reconsideration of a denied application for parole. Referred to Finance
S.1985   Sponsor Golden, Co-sponsors De Francisco, Larkin, Saland [Same as A.4610  Englebright + 21 others]
Eliminates the $2,500 limit for emergency crime victim awards when the award is used to replace necessary medical equipment not covered by insurance   Referred to finance
S.4160A   Sponsor: Savino, [Same as A.5433,  DenDekker + 29 others] 
Enables victims to view parole hearings via closed circuit television or a secure online website
Referred to finance
S.4805   Sponsor: Flanagan [Same as A.2997A,  Morelle, Aubry, Paulin]
Authorizes counties and the city of New York to impose fees on people serving probation for the actual cost of drug tests up to $600 per year. REFERRED TO FINANCE
S.5302...Sponsor: Ball [No Same As]
In the case of any inmate who is incarcerated for any offense where a police officer or a correction officer is the victim of such offense, at least one month prior to the date on which such inmate may be paroled, the board shall personally interview such inmate and determine whether he or she should be paroled in accordance with the guidelines in subdivision 4 of section 259(c). If parole is not granted upon such review, the inmate shall be informed in writing within two weeks of such appearance of the factors and reasons for such denial.  The board shall specify a date not more than forty-eight months from such determination for reconsideration. REFERRED TO FINANCE
FYI:  Of the above bills, Rivera, Hassell-Thompson, and Montgomery voted against all but A.4160 and A.1985.
May 31, Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee:
S. 7248  Sponsor: Nozzolio [No same as]  
[The vote:  Ayes (8): Nozzolio, DeFrancisco, Gallivan, Little, Maziarz, Ranzenhofer, Ritchie, KennedyAyes W/R (With Reservations)(4): Griffo, Rivera, Peralta, Espaillat; Nays (1): Montgomery, Excused (1): Hassell-Thompson]
The Assembly’s Correction Committee met for the first time this year on June 6.  They considered 38 bills, 5 of which passed and the rest were Held for further discussion.  We will describe four that passed and 9 others we think are important to know about.  
[Readers may request the complete list for a SASE.]  
Note: some of these are only briefly described because they have ‘Same as’ bills in the Senate and have been thoroughly described in past issues of Building Bridges.
A.154   Sponsor: Aubry  [Same as S338 Montgomery] 
Correction Law
A.7669-A  Sponsor: Weisenberg   [Same as S 5221-A  Fuschillo]
Executive Law
Requires the department of corrections and community supervision to maintain the responsibility and costs of monitoring any person required to use an ignition interlock device reported to codes
A.8961  Sponsor:Aubry;  Cospnsrs: Stevenson, Roberts, Kavanagh     [Same as S.5920 Montgomery]  
Correction Law
Expands Work Release to include those persons who will become eligible for parole or conditional release within three years. Those persons incarcerated for an offense involving the use or threatened use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument will now qualify as an "eligible inmate" when they will become eligible for parole or conditional release within thirty months.  reported to codes

A9696  Aubry (MS)   No Same as 
Executive Law
Enacts the New York state program for older prisoners act authorizing geriatric parole for certain prisoners over 60 years of age   reported to codes
NOTE: All of the following were HELD (not voted on):
A1352-A  Sponsor: Hawley (MS)   [Same as S 508-A  Maziarz]  
TITLE....Authorizes the sheriff to charge prisoners fees to support the operations of the facility where they are incarcerated; requires inmates to assist in the provision of necessary services provided at the facility
A1449  Sponsor: Ortiz   [No Same as] 
TITLE....Requires medical directors at state correctional facilities to be trained or certified in addiction medicine
A1573  Sponsor:Tedisco   [No Same as ]
Creates the child support work program for county jails for prisoners under a court order to pay child support who have accumulated support arrears equivalent to or greater than the amount of current support due for a period of four months; sheriff shall determine who shall participate in such program; work under such program shall be at the jail and not off-premises.
A1574  Sponsor:Tedisco   [No Same as] 
TITLE....Provides for inmate reimbursement of expenses of confinement in certain instances.  Wealthy inmates are to pay the costs associated with their incarceration.  An inmate with total assets of $200,000 or more shall pay one hundred percent of his or her incarceration costs. An inmate with assets of more that $160,000 but less than $200,000 shall pay eighty percent of his or her incarceration costs. Inmates with assets of $120,000 or more but less than $160,000 shall pay sixty percent. An inmate with assets of $80,000 or more but less than $120,000 shall pay forty percent of his or her costs. An inmate with assets of $40,000 but less than $80,000 shall pay twenty percent of his or her expenses. Lastly, an inmate with total assets less than $40,000 shall not be required to pay any of the costs associated wit incarceration.
A1575  Tedisco   [No Same as] 
Provides for the disposition of civil proceeds realized by a prisoner of a correctional facility who is successful in an action against the state or a locality to a trust fund subject to garnishment or attachment for the cost of such prisoner's confinement, support of his or her dependents, payment of fines and other restitution.
A2034  Reilich (MS)   [No Same as] 
[this one really breaks my heart...Ed.]
TITLE....Prohibits inmate of a correctional facility serving a life without parole sentence, or who has been convicted of a sex offense, from having visitation under the family reunion program.  [Families matter!]
A2042  Tedisco (MS)   [No Same as] 
TITLE....Allows the governor to review decisions by the parole board to grant or deny release on parole to inmates serving a sentence of imprisonment, or the imposition of conditions of such release; allows the governor to delay the scheduled release of an inmate to parole by not more than fifteen days for the purpose of conducting such a review.
A2043  Tedisco (MS)   [No Same as] 
Establishes a three member panel chosen at random from among the members of the state board of parole shall interview and determine if inmates should be released; adds these considerations to making the parole release decision: 1. the seriousness of the offense with due consideration to the type of sentence, length of sentence and recommendations of the sentencing court,  the  district  attorney,  the  attorney for the inmate,  the pre-sentence probation report as well as consideration of any mitigating and aggravating factors, and activities following  arrest and  prior  to  confinement;  2. prior criminal record, including the nature and pattern of offenses, adjustments to any previous probation or parole supervision or institutional confinement
A2650  Sponsors: Jacobs, Cymbrowitz    [No Same as] 
Relates to providing necessary medication to persons committed to the custody of the departments; authorizes and directs the commissioner to establish a system to ensure that all necessary medications, are given to incarcerated persons in a timely manner while in the custody of the department.
A6001  Sponsors: Burling, J. Miller, Giglio, Finch, Stevenson +7 others]   [No Same as] 
Authorizes the medical testing for infection with the AIDS virus of certain inmates applying for certain inmate privileges such as marriage, temporary release program, and family reunions; authorizes the disclosure of such test results for such purposes; authorizes the notification of correctional personnel of inmates having symptoms of AIDS; authorizes commissioner to deny access of the inmate to such privileges if they test positive. 
The rest of the 38 bills on the agenda would make life untenable for sex offenders or would have the legislature micromanaging DOCCS and the Parole Board.

10.  NYS Parole Reform Campaign: Report on Advocacy Days and a letter to the Governor
Soon after the NY Reentry Roundtable’s Advocacy Day on May 15, The Safe and Fair Evaluations Parole Act gained 4 new sponsors: Senator Hassell-Thompson, Senator Serrano, Assembly members P. Rivera and Scarborough.  
There are now 9 sponsors in the Assembly and 7 in the Senate.  Not bad for a bill that’s only 1 year old!   Readers who have called, written, or visited their legislators and /or shown up for Lobby Day events can take the credit for this.  If any of the sponsors represent your district, please thank them.  The more appreciation they get for doing the right thing, the less strength the bill’s opponents have.  Tom Duane, who introduced it in the Senate, is not seeking reelection so we will have to find another Senator to introduce it next year, as well as speak to A.M.Aubry about reintroducing it.  We will miss Tom Duane; he has always been a champion of just causes.  If you have any information on Brian Kavanaugh, Brad Holyman or Corey Johnson, who are rumored to be interested in running for his seat, please let us know.  Prison Action Network is trying to find out where they stand in the battle over NYS criminal justice policies.  Contact information for the last 2 would be especially appreciated.  If you know any of them please ask them where, on a scale of 1 - 5 they stand:  (1. being "lock em up and throw away the key" and 5. being "treat prisoners as you want them to treat us, and use evidence-based practices such as alternatives to prison whenever possible").
Prison and Parole Justice Day on May 22 was a different kind of day. It was the first public parole reform demonstration; a walk from the Capitol to the NYS Parole Board office at 97 Central Avenue.  For details see Article 11.  
Letter to the Governor regarding the SAFE Parole Act
Governor Andrew Cuomo,Albany 12224
Re: Taking Justice one step further with S.5374/ A.7939
Dear Governor Cuomo,
Strong leadership defines New York State.  That’s why we’re looking to you to urge the Senate and the Assembly to vote for the Safe and Fair Evaluations (S.A.F.E.) Parole Act.  Or to incorporate it in your 2013 Budget Act.  
Last year you made some changes to Executive Law § 259-c(4) which modernized the duties of the Parole Board by requiring them to replace static, past-focused conduct with more dynamic present and future-focused risk assessment procedures.  In other words, to base their decisions on the potential of the person sitting before them to live a crime-free life upon release.
Nevertheless, last year alone, hundreds of people sentenced for violent offenses - people who have the lowest recidivism rates, and thus are the safest to release - were denied parole solely because of the nature of the crime, something they can never change.  The changes you made did not go far enough!  New York State needs to do more to bring about the changes begun by your amendments.  
The SAFE Parole Act removes the nature of the crime from the list of criteria upon which the Parole Board can deny release, because it’s not a predictor of future behavior, although it is one of the gauges used by the Risk and Needs Assessment to assess risk of recidivism.  The SAFE Parole Act would put an end to the Parole Board effectively re-sentencing parole applicants convicted of violent crimes by requiring the Commissioners to stipulate what the parole applicant must do in order to be released, and to release her or him upon completion of those instructions.
With your leadership in making these legislative changes, the torture of repeatedly being denied their freedom for something they can never change could come to an end for hundreds of rehabilitated New York State citizens and their families.

11.  Parole News: Expired Terms and April Releases
Parole Board Members Whose Terms Have Expired*

Appt’d by
Term Expires
G. Kevin Ludlow
Gerald J. Greenan, III
Christina Hernandez
James Ferguson
W.William Smith Jr
Henry Lemons
Jared Brown

* Or will in a few days

** Correction: last month we erred in claiming he had been reappointed.

unofficial research from parole database

Total Interviews
# Released
# Denied
Rate of Release
18 Initials
 82 reappearances
100 Total
Initial Releases:

# of Board
Murder 2
Murder 2
Initial *
Murder 2
Murder 2
Murder 2
Initial *
Murder 2
*for deportation only
Reappearance Releases: 

# of Board
Bare Hill
Murder 2
Bare Hill
Murder 2
26 ½-Lfe
Murder 2
Murder 2
Murder 2
Five Points
Murder 2
Murder 2
Murder 2
Murder 2
Murder 2
Murder 2
Murder 2
Murder 2
Kidnap 1
Sing Sing
Murder 2
Murder 2
Walsh Med Ctr
Murder 1
21 ½-Lfe
Murder 2
Murder 2

12.  NYS Prisoner Justice Network Report-back to the justice community
Prison and Parole Justice Day, May 22, 2012 in Albany – LET MY PEOPLE GO!
The goals of Justice Day:
  • strengthen the movement to challenge and change New York’s criminal INjustice system
  • share information and inspiration among activists, advocates, families, communities, and formerly and currently incarcerated people
  • begin a process of cooperation between justice communities and reform-minded legislators
  • demand justice in parole decisions – no more endless denials based on original crime
The day was well-attended by people coming from all across New York State and representing a wide range of issues, organizations, experiences, and viewpoints. The statewide participants were joined for the Parole Board March and Rally by local Capital District activists with signs, banners, and bullhorns to create an impressive and empowering presence at the Board of Parole Headquarters. LET MY PEOPLE GO! rang out loud and echoed from the buildings of downtown Albany!
Each of the three parts of the day had a role in moving our movement forward: 
In Part One we heard brief reports from over a dozen active campaigns for justice, ranging from parole reform to stopping solitary confinement to monitoring the suicides at Erie County Jail.  A statement was read from prisoners at Sullivan Correctional Facility, proposing a Commission to overhaul the parole system; and a mother read a moving letter from her son incarcerated in a forensic hospital with no way out. Our diverse activities started to feel like a movement with ties to each other and a shared sense of mission.  
 Part Two was a meeting with invited legislators committed to criminal justice reform. New York State Prisoner Justice Network and other allied organizations proposed that the legislators form a Task Force on Criminal Justice Reform in the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, to work closely with communities and organizations to advance an agenda for change.   State Senators Bill Perkins and Velmanette Montgomery listened to the Task Force proposal, addressed the participants, and responded to questions. Several legislators have committed to the Task Force; but only persistent follow-up from advocates can make it a reality.
 Part Three was our loud and spirited march to the Parole Board, with chants like JOBS AND EDUCATION, NOT MASS INCARCERATION and HEY HEY, HO HO, THE NEW JIM CROW HAS GOT TO GO. We handed out informational flyers; heard a mic check about what’s wrong with parole; and listened to a recent parolee tell his story: sentenced to 9 years to life for a crime committed when he was 15 years old, he was hit (denied) by the parole board NINE TIMES, and ended up serving 29 years before being released! 
 After several powerful and heart-rending stories we all recommitted ourselves to demanding that the parole board stop “re-sentences” in the form of endless denials. We then broke bread together (pizza, actually) and went home to our respective communities and projects, determined to keep up and intensify the work until we succeed in bringing about fundamental changes for justice for the incarcerated and safer and more humane alternatives for our communities. 
We were energized and re-charged by Justice Day for the hard work which lies ahead. On behalf of 86,000 New York prisoners who are our neighbors and family members, we are up to the challenge!
13.  Raise the Age New York: Two Events
NY Reentry Roundtable on Wednesday, June 20, 1-3 pm
Raise the Age, Raise the Bar, Raise the Youth (RABY), A presentation on the Landscape and Developments related to Juvenile Justice
Speakers: Chino Hardin and Kyung Ji Rhee, Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform &Alternatiaves, a youth division of the Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions
CSS, 105 E.22 St, crn Park Ave South,  Take the 6 or NR trains to 23rd St.   Kindly RSVP: or 212 614 5306
Center for Community Alternatives on Thursday June 21, 6-8pm
NY is one of only 2 states in the nation that sets the age of criminal responsibility as low as 16.  NY also permits prosecution of children as young as 13 as adults, if accused of certain offenses.  Would you like to learn about efforts to raise the age of criminal responsibility in NY to 18?  Join us at the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza Community Room, 1368 Fulton St. Bklyn, 11216.  
Featured Speaker: Judge Michael A. Corriero (Ret.), Exec. Director NY Center for Juvenile Justice.
Dinner will be served.  Please RSVP: Jeffrey Zink 212 660 1360,
14.  In Our Name: Restoring Justice in America
You are invited to a weekend symposium on the American Justice System to be held on the idyllic 600 acre facility of Christ the King Spiritual Life Center campus, in Greenwich NY, beginning Friday afternoon August 24 thru Sunday afternoon August 26.
Advocates, criminal justice professionals, and members of the bar, academic, faith and general communities in the tri-state areas will come together to learn and discuss and create workable proposals for reform.  The theme for the weekend is - freedom through education.
Our program presenters include some of the most respected advocates and professionals in the criminal justice field.  Our moderator will be Sheila Rule of the “Think Outside the Cell Foundation” in NYC.
Scholarships have been generously provided by program sponsors.  If you are a crime victim or have a family member who was or is a crime victim, a full time student, have been incarcerated or have a family member who was or is incarcerated, or an advocate for someone who is or was incarcerated or have limited income, then you qualify for a scholarship for the difference between what, if anything, you can afford and the registration (conference, meals and/or accommodations), no questions asked.  We especially welcome families of incarcerated persons and crime victims.  We have sleeping arrangements for 48 scholarship guests in the wonderful “Beaver Cross Camp” lodges.  To secure your registration just write on the form* which category applies to you and remit what if anything, you can afford.  Whatever you situation is, we would love to have you in attendance.
Please email Gordon Boyd to  have a Registration Form mailed to you. 
15.  Transportation Service Offered from Albany - COR-FACTS (Correctional Facility Transport Service )
Provides transportation from Albany to 25 prisons in NYS, on Saturdays and Sundays.
Oneida Hub ( Hale Creek, Marcy, Mid-State, and Mohawk)
Sullivan Hub (Ulster, Eastern, Woodbourne, Sullivan, Shawangunk, Wallkill, Otisville)
Gt. Meadows Hub (Greene, Coxsackie, Hudson, Mt. McGregor, Gt. Meadow, Washington, Moriah)
Green Haven Hub (Green Haven, downstate, Fishkill, Beacon, Taconic, Bedford Hills, Sing-Sing)
To make reservations please call 518 772 6719 or email  Seating is limited to 7 passengers per hub per trip so book early to ensure a seat.  Departure times will vary depending on what prison passengers are visiting.  Due to this, passengers will be notified of the departure time 2 days before the trip.  Departure times will be calculated to arrive at your destination facility between 8am and 9:30am.
Building Bridges is Prison Action Network’s way to stay in contact with our members.
Call 518 253 7533 or email if you want to join.

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