May 18, 2011

Senate wants to create violent offenders registry

The state Senate have passed a bill that would make it easier for New Yorkers to find out if their neighbor has a violent past.

The legislation would create a statewide violent offender registry, similar to the one in place for sex offenders. The bill, S3645C, also known as Brittany's Law, was introduced by Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, and has 14 co-sponsors, including Mike Nozzolio, R-Fayette.

The Republican-controlled state Senate voted overwhelmingly yesterday to force violent felons to register their names and whereabouts annually with local law enforcement and on an Internet database accessible to the public.

The proposal would only apply to new violators convicted of charges deemed violent in state law. The registry would require anyone convicted of a violent felony to update their information annually for 10 years, or more frequently for the most grievous crimes. After a decade, the felon would no longer be required to check in, although his name would remain in the database. Felons could also seek judicial relief from the requirement to register.

For full story:
Senate wants to create violent offenders registry (Legislative Gazette, May 17 2011)
Senate passes bill to create registry of violent felons (Democrat and Chronicle, May 18 2011)
1 Albany bill's great; the other, misguided (Times Herald Record, June 18 2011)

May 16, 2011

Building Bridges - May 2011 edition

The May edition of Building Bridges has just been released by the Prison Action Network.

Summary of articles in this issue:

1. Actions, Event and Meetings include Coalition for Women Prisoners Advocacy Day in Albany on behalf of the the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act. [with dates for NYC and phone pre-trainings]; Presentation of the SAFE Parole Act on March 19 at the Chelsea Reform Dem Club, with Tom Duane; March 21 appearance of Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow at Riverside Church; Buffalo PRP2! meeting on May 23, Manhattan meetings on May 17 (Milk Not Jails), May 18 (NY Reentry Roundtable), and May 19 (Coalition for Women Prisoners) as well as regularly scheduled support group meetings. You can keep busy working for justice almost any day!

2. The Coalition for Fair Criminal Justice Policies is passionate about bringing deserving men and women home from prison through better parole policies, but the question throughout the process from arrest through sentencing, potential incarceration, and parole release should be: where do we want this person to end up? This is called Reintegrative Justice.

3. Legislation: S 338/A 154 expands Merit Time eligibility to include violent crimes (with some exceptions) and the list of criteria for receiving merit time has also been expanded.

4. DOCS and the Div. of Parole have merged into DOCCS (Dept. of Corrections and Community Supervision); The Parole Board will maintain its independence.

5. NYS Parole Reform Campaign is now at WWW.PAROLEREFORM.ORG. Visit this new interactive website where you can view people speaking about their parole experiences, leave your parole story on the storyline phone, and take several actions, including sending Senator Duane a thank you letter. It includes a list of members of both committees in the legislature who have to pass it before it can move to a vote of each house.

6. Parole News - 134 interviews, 30 released, 4 on initial hearings. (Still none in the Elmira or Watertown hubs.)

7. A link to The SAFE Parole Bill S.5374 in its entirety, plus what we know about TAP and risk and needs assessments. Called a “mark-up”, the bill S5374 shows the changes that constitute the SAFE Parole Act. It contains all the language in the governor’s revision. The SAFE Parole Act removes all the crossed out language and adds the CAPITALIZED words.

May 15, 2011

The NYS Parole Reform Campaign reports that Senator Tom Duane is sponsoring the Safe Parole Act, S5374

The NYS Parole Reform Campaign reports that Senator Tom Duane is sponsoring the SAFE Parole Act in the Senate, where it is Bill #S5374, and Jeffrion Aubry has sponsored it in the Assembly, Bill #A7939.

News from the Prison Action Network:

Now that the SAFE Parole Act has a bill number and a sponsor, it's time for the heavy lifting. Not in the weight room but in the legislature. We need to build a strong grassroots base that will put pressure on legislators who will have to be convinced that sponsoring Senate Bill 5374, or at least to vote for it, is the smart thing to do. Personal stories are very important. They connect the words in the SAFE Parole Bill with human beings who are suffering under the weight of unfair parole board decisions. The good news is that now there's an easy way to get started!

This week we are inaugurating our new interactive website, where you can learn more about the SAFE Parole Bill, sign a petition, send a letter to your legislators and to the governor, and download materials to pass out where ever you go. There's much more at; you can tell your story on the 24/7 storyline and watch videos of others telling how they've been affected by unfair parole policies [to see more than one, click on the channel tab]. You can even use it to find out your legislator's phone #. When you take action and send the form letter on the site, you will see the name, photo, and phone # of each of your representatives in the state legislature.

It's important to start working right now, since this legislative session is over at the end of June. Plan to visit the site regularly. Tell everyone you know about it and invite them to do the same.

[Thanks to Thousand Kites who have done all the work of creating the website and who will continue to help us improve it and move it out into the public arena. Your feedback will help us. Let us know if you experience any difficulties. But most importantly, please use it.]

(We need videographers in the Ithaca, Syracuse, and Binghamton areas. 1000 Kites supplies the cameras and the training, please email if interested.)

FOLLOWING ARE THE MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEES WHERE OUR BILL WILL REMAIN UNTIL THE CHAIRS OF EACH RELEASE IT FOR A VOTE. We still need a sponsor in the Assembly. These committees have to pass our bill before it can be voted on by the respective full house. If one of them represents you and you want to change the Parole Board’s policies, you need to convince him or her to vote yes to pass the SAFE Parole Bill, S.5374. It is now in the Senate Committee.

Chair: Jeffrion Aubry
William Colton
Janet Duprey
Joe Giglio
Hakeem Jeffries
Tom Kirwan
Alan Maisel
Félix Ortiz
Teresa Sayward
Eric Stevenson
Harvey Weisenberg
Keith L.T. Wright

Chair: Sen. Michael F. Nozzolio
John A. DeFrancisco
Patrick M. Gallivan
Joseph A. Griffo
Ruth Hassell-Thompson
Timothy M. Kennedy
Betty Little
George D. Maziarz
Velmanette Montgomery
José Peralta
Michael H. Ranzenhofer
Patty Ritchie
Gustavo Rivera