November 04, 2008

Graziano v. Pataki update: November 4th 2008

Update from Robert Isseks and Peter Sell, given to the Prison Action Network:

"Initially the state moved to dismiss our case, arguing it does not belong in federal court, because federal constitutional rights were not violated. Judge Brieant denied the state's motion. There was a change in the administration, the state moved again to dismiss, Brieant denied that motion as well. Since then we’ve been involved in the discovery process. The purpose now is to amass evidence of the policy as we alleged. During this time decisions have been made in district courts in NY that disagree with Brieant’s decision, saying it does not belong in Federal court; that it may violate state law but not federal. Judge Brieant died and Judge Cathy Seibel is our new judge; we go before her the first time on Nov. 6 and the due process decision will be discussed. The case is about how it is that these commissioners, usually 3 of them, make the decisions that they make. We believe that they are made arbitrarily in accordance with a predetermined plan based on the parole commissioner's personal philosophy and not in accordance with statues. If a judge decided on 15 to life as sufficient, how does the board then reach a decision that it's not true or sufficient? If the board says because of the crime you committed you are still a danger, they are supposed to express how you are still a danger and they are not doing that, they are just saying that because the crime was done, there is a danger. We have the evidence that this is what is going on, the question is does that constitute a federal due process violation? That’s what needs to be decided before we can move forward.

The statistics show that the people who committed these violent offenses are the least likely to repeat. Those statistics refute the argument that these people who committed these crimes years ago are still a danger."