September 16, 2011

Building Bridges - September 2011 edition

The September edition of Building Bridges has been issued by the Prison Action Network.

Articles in this edition include:

1. Attica: NYC's Attica Is Us event focused on the messages we can take from the 1971 Rebellion; Buffalo engaged in educating the public about the impact of incarceration on individuals and the community, and Mika'il DeVeaux used his memory of the day to write a piece reminding us of the continued politicizing of incarceration, and calls on us to fight back.

2. The Women in Prison Project looks forward to a "day when survivors who act to protect themselves and their children from an abuser’s violence are given support and protection instead of harsh punishment and incarceration—to a day when survivor-defendants are treated with the fairness and dignity they deserve."

3. Columbia Law School Professor Philip Genty analyzes the potential impact of the policy shift contained in the Governor's revision of Exec Law § 259-i and concludes that "this addition of an explicit requirement that the Parole Board adopt and be guided by procedures that require it to evaluate "rehabilitation" and "the likelihood of success…upon release" signals a critical reform and modernization of parole practices."

4. Job Announcement from FACES NY, Inc. Job Title: Re-Entry Case Manager; Hours: 35 hrs/weekly; Salary Range: $30,000 - $35,000/yr Qualifications: BA degree in Social Work or a related human services field and/or 5 years minimum experience.

5. Legislative report dispels the rumor that the SAFE Parole Act has passed. A bill is not a law. The NYS Senate and Assembly both need to vote for it during a Legislative Session. The last Legislative Session ended in June 2011, and will not start again, barring an emergency, until January 2012. (See further details below.)

6. The NYS Parole Reform Campaign invites family members and friends and advocates of people who have appeared, or will appear before the NYS Parole Board, to tell their stories on video or audio recording, and hopefully by doing so open the eyes of those who know nothing of the injustices we experience. They also need data entry and legislative look-up volunteers to help their supporters get the information they need.

7. Parole News: July Statistics for A1VO Parole Releases.

Also from Building Bridges, an update on the status of the SAFE Parole Act:

"Rumors that the SAFE Parole Act has passed are unfounded. A bill is not a law (please refer to the August issue of Building Bridges for the process). The NYS Senate and Assembly both need to vote for it during a Legislative Session. The last Legislative Session ended in June 2011, and will not start again, barring an emergency, until January 2012.

S5374: The Senate will have to reintroduce the SAFE Parole Act in January when they go back into session. It will be given a new Senate number. At the end of last session it had four Senate sponsors: Senator Tom Duane and three co-sponsors: Senators Velmanette Montgomery, Bill Perkins, and Gustavo Rivera.

When Sen. Nozzolio chooses, the SAFE Parole Act will be introduced to the Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections Committee, which he chairs, for a vote. A majority of the members will have to vote for it in order for it to move out to the Senate floor for a vote. If a majority vote against it, it will be dead unless and until someone reintroduces it at the next Session (January 2013).

A7939: The Assembly retains bills for two sessions, so it will keep this number and its seven Assembly sponsors: Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry, two co-sponsors: Assembly Members Andrew Hevesi and Eric A. Stevenson, and three Multi-sponsors: Assembly Members Herman D. Farrell, Jr., Richard N. Gottfried and John J. McEneny.

Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry (who is also the head of the Assembly's Corrections Committee) probably will wait until he feels it has enough support to pass before he introduces it to the committee. Like the Senate, if the committee passes it, it goes to the Assembly floor for discussion and a vote.

Please encourage your State Senator and Assembly Member to vote for the SAFE Parole Act if there is to be any hope of this bill becoming law."