Building Bridges

The monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network

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Monday, March 06, 2017

March 2017

Welcome to the site of Building Bridges, Prison Action Network's newsletter 

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Building Bridges March 2017

Dear Reader,  
Here’s what you can do NOW!

Arrange to take a day off on May 10 to come to Albany to rally and speak to legislators about passing the SAFE Parole Act and other bills.  

Reserve a seat on the Free buses from NYC
Sign a petition to maintain 7-days a week visits: https://www.change.org/p/governor-cuomo-don-t-restrict-visits-in-nys-prisons    [We are close to 3000 names but really, we can get it a lot higher]


Table of Contents
  1. Parole News for January including a NEW! Feature: a list by facility of all releases and denials
  2. Legislation Report for January and February
  3. The SAFE And Fair Evaluations Parole Act - It and all other progressive bills won’t pass without YOU.
  4. Cuomo’s Prison Visitation proposal
  5. NetWORKS takes you on a visit to a Supermax
  6. Flyer for May 10th


1.  Parole News - January Release Rates for A1VOs and  !NEW! a list of All facilities with the number of parole denials and releases at each.
PAROLE BOARD RELEASES - A1 VIOLENT FELONS DIN #s through 2001  
unofficial research from parole database
January 2017 - A1VO Interview Summaries
Type
Total Seen
# Released
# Denied
Rate of Release
Initials 
24
3
21
12%
Reappearances
83
30
53
36%
Total 
107
33
74
31%

5 de nova's denied - 3 released
January 2017 - A1VO Initial Releases by Facility

Facility
Age at Hearing
Age at Commitment
Sentence
Offense
# of Board
Eastern
43
18
26-Life
Mrd 2
1
Gouverneur
52
28
25-Life
Mrd 2
1
Sing Sing
42
26
17-Life
Mrd 2
1


January 2017 - A1VO Reappearance Releases by Facility
Facility
Age at hearing
Age at Commitment
Sentence
Offense
# of Board
Cayuga
37
20
15-Life
Mrd 2
3
Cayuga
52
18
27-Life
Mrd 2
5
Cayuga
36
18
17-Life
Mrd 2
2
Clinton
47
31
15-Life
Kid 1
2
Collins
36
20
15-Life
Mrd 2
2
Elmira
39
18
18-Life
Kid1
3
Fishkill
58
42
15-Life
Mrd 2
2
Fishkill
55
25
20-Life
Mrd 2
7
Fishkill
53
25
25-Life
Mrd 2
5
Fishkill
55
32
15-Life
Mrd 2
6
Fishkill
41
19
15-Life
Mrd 2
5
Fishkill
49
28
20-Life
Mrd 2
2
Five points
41
21
20-Life
Mrd 1
2
Franklin
71
27
15-Life
Pre 74 Mrd
17
Franklin
39
21
18-Life
Kid1
2
Groveland
65
31
25-Life
Mrd 2
6
Marcy
53
26
25-Life
Mrd 2
3
Midstate
62
27
20-Life
Mrd 2
9
Midstate
46
20
23-Life
Mrd 2
3
Midstate
53
28
22-Life
Mrd 2
3
Mohawk
59
18
15-Life
Mrd 2
15
Orleans
60
29
25-Life
Mrd 2
7
Otisville
44
19
20-Life
Mrd 2
5
Sing Sing
42
19
20-Life
Mrd 2
3
Ulster
48
19
25-Life
Mrd 2
4
Washington
63
31
20-Life
Mrd 2
6
Wende
52
18
15-Life
Mrd 2
11
Woodbourne
53
19
25-Life
Mrd 2
6
Woodbourne
57
30
23-Life
Mrd 2
4
Woodbourne
53
29
20-Life
Mrd 2
4





All Facilities and the decisions (including A1VOs.)
Total seen: 972;  312 releases, 660 denials.  32 % release rate
Facility
Denials
Releases
Adirondack
11
8
Albion
10
24
Albion - WR
1
1
Altona
18
12
Attica
11
0
Auburn
19
1
Bare Hill
17
14
Bedford Hills
7
5
Cape Vincent
15
3
Cayuga
24
12
Clinton
16
3
Collins
12
11
Coxsackie
2
2
Downstate
15
6
Eastern
1
2
Edgecombe
0
2
Elmira
10
5
Fishkill 
19
24
Five Points
18
3
Franklin
19
7
Gouverneur
7
4
Gowanda
21
13
Gowanda SOP
6
1
Great Meadow
10
3
Green Haven
10
3
Greene
19
6
Groveland
43
16
Hale Creek - ASAC
1
1
Hudson
2
2
Lakeview
3
3
Lincoln
1
2
Livingston
14
2
Marcy
13
7
Marcy - ASACTC
2
0
Midstate 
29
9
Mohawk
14
13
Ogdensburg
7
5
Orleans
14
3
Otisville
21
12
Riverview
10
3
Rochester
2
1
Shawangunk
6
1
Sing Sing
6
2
Southport
7
0
Sullivan
6
0
Taconic
7
6
Ulster
31
6
Upstate
16
2
Wallkill
20
5
Walsh Med Center
2
3
Washington
19
6
Watertown
10
5
Wende
8
3
Woodbourne
17
5
Wyoming
21
10


January 2017 - A1VOs Over 60 -Summary  [one age unknown]

Age Range
Total seen
# Released
# Denied 
January Release Rate 
60-69
21
4
17
19%
70-79
8
1
7
12%
80+
0
0
0
0%
Total
29
5
24
17%


January 2017 - A1VO Ages at time of commitment
Age Range
Total 
Released
Denied 
16-20
26
14
12
21-25
19
4
15
25+
62
15
47
Total
107
33
74



January 2017 - ALL Parole Releases (including the A1VOs reported above)
Type of Release
Total seen
# Released
# Denied
Rate of Release
Initials
526
142
384
27%
All other decisions
446
170
276
38%
Total Interviews
972
312
660
32%
Includes Merit time cases                                      



2.  Legislation Report
Assembly Bills (11) reported by Correction Committee (David Weprin, Chair) and Senate Bills (7) reported by the Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee ( Patrick Gallivan, Chair)
Explanation:   S stands for Senate, A stands for Assembly.   If a bill has a sponsor in both chambers we identify it with a slash mark between their two numbers (A.1234 / S.5678) and the primary sponsors like this: (Kavanagh/Parker).  For Assembly bills, the first name is the Assembly Member and for Senate bills the Senate sponsor is listed first.  We don't list the co-sponsors.  You may write us for that information (SASE required) or look it up on-line.

If a bill is “reported” or “referred”, it means it passed out of the Committee to another committee (from where it may go to the entire House for a floor vote).  Before any of these bills become law they have to be passed in both houses, where changes can be made from the floor before a final vote.  If passed, the Governor has to sign them before they can become the law.

On January 24 and February 6,  2017  these 11 bills were passed by the Corrections Committee 

Bill Number
Primary Sponsor/s
Purpose
A.366/S.976  
Passed in both houses
Englebright/Ortt
Requires “sex offenders” to report within 48 hours of any  changes of location
A. 368/S.971  
Passed in both houses
Sepulveda/Rivera
Authorizes DOCCS to provide a qualified interpreter from the NYS OGS to be used in parole board proceedings.
A.1610 /No same as 
Reported to codes
Rozic
To exclude pregnant prisoners from solitary confinement in New York correctional facilities.
A.1776/S.3396 
Referred to Ways and Means.
Joyner/Parker
Authorizes DOCCS to undertake a study of the treatment, conditions and prevalence of aging prison populations and issue findings pertaining to such populations.
A.1904/ No same as 
Advance to 3rd Reading
O’Donnell
Creates the office of the correctional ombudsman
A.1905A /No same as
Passed in Assembly
O’Donnell
Inmates should only be kept in special housing units for the minimum period of time necessary to maintain institutional order and safety and by prohibiting the placement of juveniles, people with mental illness, developmentally disabled inmates and inmates with physical disabilities in solitary confinement. New York should fully comply with international human rights standards in its jails and prisons.
A.1907/S.4061
Advanced to 3rd Reading
O’Donnell/Lanza
This bill prohibits the placement of inmates under the age of eighteen in solitary confinement.

A.2343/ S.2425-A
Passed in Assembly
Aubry/Carlucci
Requires employers to make a conditional offer of employment before inquiring about any criminal convictions of a prospective employee
A.2385
Referred to Codes
Weprin
Relates to confidential hearing records; authorizes attorney representing inmate in certain proceedings to obtain a copy of hearing record; prohibits redisclosure
A.3053/S.3982
Weprin/Montgomery
Requires parole decisions to be published on a publicly accessible website within 60 days of such decision 
A.3206/ No same as
Referred to Ways and Means
Aubry 
Conforms the definition of an inmate with a serious mental illness to the definition of "person with a serious mental illness" in the mental hygiene law 


On January 30, these 7 bills were passed by the Senate’s Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee (Gallavan, Chair)

Bill Number
Primary Sponsor/s
Purpose
S.249/ A.1637 
Passed in Senate
Referred to Correction
Ortt/Hawley
To authorize law enforcement to disseminate a Level 2 sex offenders place of employment address to vulnerable populations.
S.399/A.2749
Reported to Finance
Ortt/Miller
Defines residency as any place of abode, domicile or inhabitance
where a convicted sex offender spends or intends to spend more
than two days a week.
S.449  No Same As
Reported to Finance
Young
Restores the responsibility for housing and caring for alleged parole violators back to the state and will help alleviate the burden upon county taxpayers.
S.1014/ A.1188
Reported to Finance
Robach/
Simanowitz
Establishes an educational outreach program for sex offender awareness by providing for educational outreach service to schools, community groups and clergy.
S.1635  No Same As
Referred to Correction
Goldin
Prohibits registered sex offenders from working with children
S.1787/A. 2605
“On Senate Active List”
Klein/Sepulveda
Prohibits people convicted of II and III sex offences from knowingly being within 1,000 feet of any place where pre-kindergarten or kindergarten instruction is provided.
S.3338/ No Same As
Reported to Finance
Bailey

Defines the term "necessary court appearance" for the purpose of determining crime victim transportation compensation.




3.  The Safe and Fair Evaluations (SAFE) Parole Act

Change Not Possible Without the Help of Others

My name is Maria. As most of you know, the Governor is trying to eliminate the weekday visits at all max prisons.  I recently attended a rally on the steps of City Hall trying to stop this horrible thing from taking place.  Although it doesn’t affect me personally, because my husband is currently at a medium prison,  I felt it was important for me to support the many people who are affected.  I didn’t have to attend, but I needed to.  
As I stood there witnessing people speak and express their concerns, I couldn’t help but say to myself “Where are all the people"?  There were roughly 75 people there but not nearly what I had anticipated especially when this affects so many people. Which brings me to my point:
Several years ago while getting on a bus to take a 5 ½  hour journey to visit my husband, I was confronted by a lady who invited me to an event called “Family Empowerment Day”. I was curious to find out what this was all about.  She spoke to me about a bill called “The Safe Parole Act” that they were trying to get passed. She gave me a brief summary of it and urged me to attend the event. 
At the time, my husband had been incarcerated for nearly 19 years of a 25 to life sentence.  I did attend, but honestly at the time I didn’t quite understand how important it was to get this bill passed, let alone worry about the parole board. It wasn’t until 2015 when my husband was denied parole for “the nature of the crime” that I decided to do something. It is now 2017 and once again my husband was denied. For the past 2 years I have made it my business to do all that I can to get this bill passed.  You see, for years I had procrastinated;  I thought other people would do it FOR ME.  I was afraid to speak OUT to anyone, let alone my Senator or Assembly-member, about introducing this bill.  NOT ANYMORE!!!
This needs to happen. People need to speak. I urge all you readers to PLEASE speak with your loved ones. Let them know we need EVERYONE to get involved. We need people to attend these rallies, whether it’s to preserve weekday visitation or to pass the SAFE Parole Act. We need to be the voice to make change possible. The more people who show up and speak out the sooner it will happen.



4.  Cuomo’s proposal bad for families, taxpayers and public safety
By Tina Luongo, attorney-in-charge of the Legal Aid Society's criminal practice. 
February 2017
Excerpts:
Tucked deep in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal released late last month is a plan that would reduce the number of in-person visiting days for women and men in New York’s maximum security prisons from seven to three – impacting roughly 22,000 incarcerated people statewide and their families back home. The Governor’s Office argues that the change is needed to align with the limitations the state already imposed on visiting at medium security facilities and to save taxpayers $2.6 million by eliminating 39 positions. 
Gov. Cuomo’s plan seeks to substitute in-person visits with video conferencing. Video-conferencing is useful in encouraging more frequent contacts, but it should be an added tool, not one that supplants the important contact visits permitted by in-person visits. Letters and videos are no alternative for face-to-face family interaction, not least of all between parents and children. It is also not the cost savings it purports to be, since recidivism costs the state far more in the long run than facilitating visits will cost now.
This is a step back from the progress New York has made in repairing our criminal justice system. New York should be expanding family and community visiting programs in medium security prisons, from which people will return to the community soon, and maintaining the existing programs in maximum security prisons. Gov. Cuomo should protect New York families and make New York safer, not ignore the overwhelming evidence that limiting prison visitation does absolutely nothing to serve the best interests of families, taxpayers and public safety.   [emphasis added]

PAN: [Don't forget to sign the petition at   https://www.change.org/p/governor-cuomo-don-t-restrict-visits-in-nys-prisons   
.


 NetWORKS, the monthly column of the New York State Prisoner Justice Network

Visit to a Supermax

Those of us who are not locked inside a cell can’t completely comprehend the depths of the prison system’s cruelty in the disguise of “criminal justice.” Your reporter, after spending hundreds of hours in visitor rooms at New York maxes, was still shocked and horrified by a first visit to a New York Supermax prison.

New York has two prisons that house predominantly SHU (special housing unit – solitary confinement) prisoners, Upstate and Southport. While not formally designated “Supermax,” these prisons meet the usual definition: most of the people incarcerated there are locked in their cells 23 hours a day. And contrary to the myth that Supermaxes are for “the worst of the worst,” any rule infraction can get you a bid in your local SHU or a transfer to Upstate or Southport. In fact, 5 out of 6 SHU sentences are for nonviolent rule infractions. In this Alice in Wonderland world, where punishment comes first and trial afterward, the ticket can be totally bogus but by the time you are exonerated, you’ve already served months under conditions that are considered torture by international standards. 

Like most of us in the anti-incarceration movement, I’ve read mountains of descriptions of the torture that is solitary confinement. Yet I was shocked by the first thing I heard about my friend J. after his transfer: he is hungry all the time and has lost a lot of weight. What? I know the NYS prison system is punitive, but I wasn’t prepared to hear that hunger is a “normal” part of punishment.  No commissary, no opportunity to receive packages, no chance to take an extra helping in mess hall or to trade with someone who doesn’t like what they got – no scrap of any kind available, outside of three unappetizing and nutritionally inadequate meals shoved through the feedup slot. If you manage to save an apple or a bit of bread for the long painful evenings after the last meal, the COs will come in and take it away. No food is allowed to be kept in your cell between meals.

So the first thing I said to J. was, “I came here to feed you.” It was no lie, he was starving, and ate a steady stream of whatever I brought him from the vending machines all day long. He’d lost 20 pounds in two months in SHU. Hold on a minute…I got so hungry just writing this that I had to go into the kitchen and grab a clementine.

Once I had pushed the sandwiches, chips, candy bars and iced teas under the glass barrier to J.’s side, I took a minute to look around. The place wasn’t very crowded, and it looked like all the people on J.’s side of the glass were very young Black and brown men, while the guards were all white men. What are the kids in here for? Drugs and gangs, says J. Why aren’t there more visitors? Without phone calls the kids lose touch with their families – most people these days never have an occasion to write a letter, and these young people have had a worse education than most. J. thinks many are functionally illiterate. No phone calls? No, none allowed til you reach a second or third level of privilege, and then you get one a month.  So the family ties that are the best hope for rehabilitation are systematically destroyed.

Anyone who thinks our movement is exaggerating when we say prison is today’s version of slavery has to come to one of these Supermaxes, or to any NYS prison, where you can see Black and brown people in shackles – yes, those are chains! -- being herded by white people with clubs, watched over by white people in towers with guns.  

After we talked awhile, I looked up to see what time it was. J. said, there are no clocks in this prison. Without knowing where we were in the visit, I felt lost – should I be starting a new conversation or getting ready to say goodbye? Then, as I was explaining to J. where I was going to drive from there, I realized he had no mental picture of where he was in the state, or even the shape of New York. You can’t have a map? No, no maps.  With no clocks and no maps, the SHU prisoner is suspended outside of time and space, disoriented, hungry, in a very small world bounded by bars and walls. This is a different understanding of sensory deprivation than I had contemplated previously.

No one gets through these conditions undamaged, some more than others, but there are people whose determination to survive is a match for the cruelty they are subjected to. J. is one of them, and on this visit I got a glimpse of what that looks like, what it takes, what it costs. The one mandated hour of out-of-cell exercise a day is just another cage, even smaller and barer than the one you are in the other 23 hours, only outdoors. But J. told me he doesn’t go to exercise -- ever.  “They put you in shackles to go to those dog kennels. If there’s one place where I can refuse to let them put me in shackles, I have to do it. It’s my dignity and self-respect against that hour outside. Putting up a fight for dignity and self-respect is how I survive in here.”

And helping J. and thousands of other prisoners survive and get out of solitary is our job out here. A powerful anti-solitary movement has made that message, and those prisoners, more visible to the public  and to public officials. In New York State, that movement supports an excellent, comprehensive piece of anti-solitary legislation called the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement bill.  The coalition supporting the bill is called CAIC, Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement. They can be reached by mail at NYCAIC, PO Box 130279, Brooklyn, NY 11213. Their website is nycaic.org. 



UNITE FOR PAROLE AND PRISON JUSTICE: A DAY OF ADVOCACY AND ACTION
Wednesday, May 10th, 2017 | State Capitol, Albany, NY
Parole reform now! Bring our people home! pastedGraphic.pdfDozens of organizations are coming together to end mass incarceration in all its forms

Pass the SAFE Parole Act and other bills!  Raise the age of criminal responsibility!  End the torture of solitary confinement!  Close Rikers! Speedy trials and no cash bail!  Close Attica! Stop all prison brutality!    Access to education and the right to vote for all currently and formerly incarcerated people!   Protect domestic violence survivors facing prosecution! Reduce sentences! End post-prison discrimination!  Fight for racial justice, community empowerment and an end to state violence!

RSVP and sign up today for FREE buses from NYC by filling out this form (http://tiny.cc/RSVPMAY10) or emailing may10dayofactionRSVP@gmail.com. Visit us on Facebook @ Challenging Incarceration New York!

Sponsored and Supported By: Challenging Incarceration  Parole Justice New York





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