November 25, 2012

Ex-Parole Commissioners Decry Rescission of 'Cop Killer' Release

An unprecedented amicus brief has been signed by six former members of the New York State Parole Board, and is accompanied by a petition accusing the New York State Board of Parole of bowing to pressure from the media and the New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association (PBA) by rescinding parole for Pablo Costello, who had already been approved for release.

The brief is signed by Robert Dennison, Vernon Manley, Thomas Grant, Barbara Treen, Theodore Kirkland and Edward Hammock. These six former parole commissioners, including two previous chairmen and three parole board members appointed by Governor George Pataki, urge the Appellate Division, Third Department, to hold the Board of Parole to a higher standard and prevent it from revoking an inmate's release simply because victims object after parole has been approved.

At the same time, in a separate case, advocates for Samuel Hamilton are preparing to challenge his repeated denial of parole by the Board, despite his strong support from both the prosecutor who sent him to prison and the state corrections commissioner.

Key points from the amicus brief:
* The Board is aware of how crime affects victims, and it assumes that victims continue to grieve.
* The Board needs clear standards if it is to avoid sitting in judgment of victims' grief.
* The Board cannot treat victims or prisoners fairly in an atmosphere that is easily sensationalized and conducive to improper influence.

For full report, including Pablo Costello's brief, the Board of Parole's reply, and details of Samuel Hamilton's case, see:
Ex-Parole Commissioners Decry Rescission of 'Cop Killer' Release, by John Caher (New York Law Journal, November 26 2012)