January 03, 2011

Felony Convictions of Parole Releasees at 10-year Low

Felony Convictions of Parole Releasees at 10-year Low
Less than 3 percent of releasees returned State Prison for committing a new felony

For Immediate Release: Thursday, December 30

Andrea W. Evans, Chairwoman of the New York State Board of Parole and Chief Executive Officer of the Division of Parole today announced that the percentage of releasees returned to State Prison for committing a new crime has declined 40 percent over the past decade.

“The Division of Parole has two main objectives – to enhance public safety and to successfully transition former offenders back to their community after release from prison,” Ms. Evans said. “The fact that fewer releasees are committing new crimes is great news for the public and a testament to the tight supervision and careful mentoring provided by our parole officers. In fiscal year 2009-10, New York State Parole Officers made more than a half million home visits, conducted 151,038 on-site drug tests and collected nearly $1.1 million in supervision fees.”

In an annual report submitted today to Governor David A. Paterson and legislative leaders and posted to the Division’s website (www.parole.state.ny.us), Ms. Evans noted that while the rate of releasees returned to prison for a new conviction has decreased from 3.7 percent in 2000-01 to 2.6 percent in 2009-10, the percentage of releasees returned for violating the conditions of their release has increased over the same period from 13.2 percent to 15.9 percent. In other words, Ms. Evans said, while the percentage of releasees returned to prison has increased, the percentage of parolees returned for committing a new crime has decreased.

“When a person on parole violates the conditions of release in a significant way, or repeatedly refuses to abide by the reasonable restrictions imposed by the Board of Parole and the parole officer, it can indicate that the individual is slipping and is not ready to return to society and live a crime-free life,” Ms. Evans said. “While we do not look for excuses to send someone back to prison and would much prefer to transform the individual into a law-abiding, tax-paying member of society if we can do so without compromising the public safety, the Division of Parole does not hesitate to violate those who cannot or will not play by the rules.”

According to the annual report, during FY 2009-10, only 1,515 releasees - fewer than 3 percent of those under supervision - were imprisoned as a result of a new felony conviction. Releasees accounted for 3.1 percent of all arrests New York State in 2009 (4.5 percent of all felonies and 2.5 percent of all misdemeanors), the last year for which full-year statistics are available, according to the report. That is the lowest rate for at least a decade.

The report also shows that the Board of Parole in FY 2009-10 granted release to 40 percent of the eligible inmates, but only to 22 percent of those being considered for parole for the first time. Nine percent of the violent felony offenders and 3 percent of the sex offenders eligible for parole were released to parole supervision.

Additionally, the report shows that 92 percent of the releasee population is male, more than half is comprised of African American individuals, and 74 percent are either African American or Hispanic. Additionally, alcohol and substance abuse issues are very common among releasees: Nearly half of the population has a history of alcohol abuse, and 67 percent have a history of drug abuse.

Chairwoman Evans noted the Division’s commitment to helping releasees make a successful transition to the community.

“Our Re-entry Services unit works closely with localities throughout the state to facilitate access to housing, benefits and support services,” Ms. Evans said. “The unit has developed referral sources for housing, substance abuse prevention services, anger management, domestic violence counseling, mental health counseling, medical services, mentoring, employment and many other services needed by releasees. In the past year, the number of releases to homeless shelters in New York City have been decreased dramatically, from 31 percent to 16 percent.”

In 2010, the Division of Parole, which was established on July 1, 1930, marked its 80th anniversary of public service to the people of New York State.