June 20, 2012

Six nominees are confirmed as members of the New York State Board of Parole

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo appoints six parole board commissioners.
meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction was held today, at which the following six nominees were confirmed as members of the New York State Board of Parole: 

Ellen Evans Alexander
James B. Ferguson, Jr. (reappointment)
Christina Hernandez (reappointment)
G. Kevin Ludlow (reappointment)
Edward M. Sharkey
Marc A. Coppola

Governor Cuomo Announces Confirmations (Albany, June 20 2012)
List of current Parole Board members:
Parole Board Members (NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision)

June 14, 2012

Building Bridges - June 2012 edition

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

A brief summary is given below. Please see Building Bridges for full details:

* Attica, mass incarceration, solitary confinement, freeing Mumia and others are on the agenda for the September 14 event.

* Carl Berk's daughter Paula is writing a memoir of her father and would welcome any information you can provide. Please send your information to Paula via the Prison Action Network.
* Call for stories to be included in WORTH's Guidebook for women returning home from prison and jail.
* Cornell University confers Bachelor's degrees on 14 students confined at Auburn prison. On June 5, 2012, Auburn Correction Facility presented a commencement ceremony not seen since the early 90s, back when Pell grants propelled Syracuse University and Cayuga Community College to teach behind the walls of the prison. This memorable event, all supported by private donations, presented 15 students with Bachelor degrees from Cornell University in conjunction with Cayuga Community College.
* Domestic Violence Legislation is being obstructed by Senate Republicans. On May 30, the Senate Democratic Conference held a public forum on the need to provide additional protections for those affected by domestic violence. The forum was convened to highlight legislation sponsored by members of the Democratic Conference which the Senate Republican Majority has refused to move out of committee and bring to the floor for a vote. Attendees at the forum included Democratic Senators as well as activists, legislators and criminal justice professionals.
* Family Empowerment Day 5 is coming to the Buffalo-Niagara Region, on Friday October 5 and Saturday October 6.
* Geriatric Parole Release bill has been passed by the Assembly's Correction Committee:
A.9696 the NYS Program for Older Prisoners Act [No same as], March 27, 2012, introduced by Members of Assembly Aubry, Lentol, Millman.
Provides geriatric parole release to an inmate who is at least sixty years of age, is serving a determinate or indeterminate sentence of imprisonment, and has served at least one-half of the minimum period of his or her indeterminate sentence, or in the case of a determinate sentence, has served at least one-half of the term of his or her determinate sentence, provided, however, that no inmate serving a sentence imposed upon a conviction for murder in the first degree or an act of terrorism shall be eligible for such geriatric parole release. Such release shall be granted only after the board considers whether there is a reasonable probability that, if released, the inmate will live and remain at liberty without violating the law, and that such release is not incompatible with the welfare of society and will not so deprecate the seriousness of the crime as to undermine respect for the law.
* Jeffry Descovic uses settlement money to help others wrongfully convicted.
* Legislation: dozens of criminal justice bills were introduced at the Senate and Assembly Committee meetings, most of them are tabled for now. See Building Bridges for full details.

* NYS Parole Reform Campaign: their report on Advocacy Days, and a letter to the Governor:

"Soon after the NY Reentry Roundtable's Advocacy Day on May 15, The Safe and Fair Evaluations Parole Act gained 4 new sponsors: Senator Hassell-Thompson, Senator Serrano, Assembly members P. Rivera and Scarborough. There are now 9 sponsors in the Assembly and 7 in the Senate. Not bad for a bill that's only 1 year old! Readers who have called, written, or visited their legislators and/or shown up for Lobby Day events can take the credit for this. If any of the sponsors represent your district, please thank them. The more appreciation they get for doing the right thing, the less strength the bill's opponents have. Tom Duane, who introduced it in the Senate, is not seeking reelection so we will have to find another Senator to introduce it next year, as well as speak to A.M. Aubry about reintroducing it. We will miss Tom Duane; he has always been a champion of just causes. If you have any information on Brian Kavanaugh, Brad Holyman or Corey Johnson, who are rumored to be interested in running for his seat, please let us know. Prison Action Network is trying to find out where they stand in the battle over NYS criminal justice policies. Contact information for the last two would be especially appreciated. If you know any of them please ask them where, on a scale of 1 - 5 they stand: (1. being "lock em up and throw away the key" and 5. being "treat prisoners as you want them to treat us, and use evidence-based practices such as alternatives to prison whenever possible")."

See Building Bridges for the text of their letter to Governor Cuomo, urging the Senate and the Assembly to vote for the Safe and Fair Evaluations (S.A.F.E.) Parole Act, and for Cuomo to incorporate it into the 2013 Budget Act.
* Parole News - Expired terms and April parole releases.
* Prisoner Justice Network reports on their May 22 Prison and Parole Justice Day.
* Raise the age of criminal responsibility in NYS to 18. The Center for Community Alternatives and the NY Reentry Roundtable host discussions in June.
* Restoring Justice in America retreat offers scholarships to their weekend symposium in Greenwich N.Y.
* Transportation Service starts up in Albany.