ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON CORRECTION
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
Since 1930 the Board of Parole has been charged with determining which indeterminately sentenced inmates should be released from incarceration and returned to society. The responsibility is a serious one, with commissioners using discretion to balance the interests of public safety with the foundational principles of fairness and justice at the heart of sentencing and penal law. In the last fifteen years many changes in the law, including Rockefeller Drug Law reform, the introduction of shock incarceration and the adoption of determinate sentencing for certain offenders, have had an impact on the board's work load and functions. Coupled with a declining crime rate, the reforms have decreased the number of people appearing before the board, even as the methodology for considering each inmate's application for parole has been refined and modernized.
This hearing will focus on the implementation and effectiveness of the processes utilized by the Board of Parole in determining who should be released from prison and who should remain incarcerated.
Please see the reverse side for a list of subjects to which witnesses may direct their testimony, and for a description of the bills which will be discussed at the hearing.
Persons wishing to present pertinent testimony to the Committee at the above hearing should complete and return the enclosed reply form as soon as possible. It is important that the reply form be fully completed and returned so that persons may be notified in the event of emergency postponement or cancellation.
Oral testimony will be limited to FIVE (5) minutes' duration. In preparing the order of witnesses, the Committee will attempt to accommodate individual requests to speak at particular times in view of special circumstances. These requests should be made on the attached reply form or communicated to Committee staff as early as possible.
Ten copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing registration desk. The Committee would appreciate advance receipt of prepared statements.
In order to further publicize these hearings, please inform interested parties and organizations of the Committee's interest in hearing testimony from all sources.
In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the Assembly, in accordance with its policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Assembly facilities and activities.
ASSEMBLYMEMBER DANIEL O'DONNELL
Member of Assembly
Committee on Correction
Current law requires risk and needs assessment instruments to be used in evaluating an inmate's readiness for release from incarceration. Have such instruments been developed? If so, how is the board using them in its decision-making process?
Has the elimination of facility parole officers affected the amount or quality of information received by the board prior to each inmate's parole hearing? What changes, if any, should be made in DOCCS' preparation of information compiled about each inmate in order to assist the board in decision making?
The Board of Parole has expanded its use of video teleconferencing of parole board interviews. Has this technology improved or hindered the quality of interviews? Has this program saved the State money?
Does the board's schedule provide for rotation and assignment of commissioners to ensure each commissioner goes to a variety of facilities or does the board place certain commissioners in certain prisons?
Please describe the training that a commissioner receives to assess an inmate's suitability for release.
What role does the victim and/or victim's family have in the board's decision-making process?
Would allowing witness testimony or the introduction of other evidence improve the parole interview process?
How do the commissioners balance the statutory requirements in making individualized decisions?
What changes, if any, should be made to the parole process to reliably identify inmates who are suitable for parole release?
Has the board's rate of response to appeals from denial of parole improved in the last two years since the merger between the Division of Parole and the Department of Correctional Services? Is there still a backlog of responses due? What changes, if any, might improve the appeal process?