Albany, New York – Assemblymember David I. Weprin’s Fair and Timely Parole Bill has been voted out of the Committee on Correction, of which he is the Chair, on the morning of March 9th. This bill has been voted out of the Senate Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction on February 22nd. Fair and Timely would grant discretionary release on parole to incarcerated individuals who have completed the minimum terms of their sentence when appearing before the Board unless they present an unreasonable public safety risk. The crime committed would be eliminated as a factor when deciding to grant parole. Instead, the institutional record would be used.
Assemblymember Weprin, Senator Julia Salazar, who chairs the Senate Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction, and other state legislators and advocates virtually rallied to acknowledge the bill’s passage out of committee in both houses and to advocate for next steps.
The way the Board of Parole currently operates, an applicant for parole is not likely to be released after their first request, especially if there is political pressure to deny it. The nature of the crime is also taken into consideration, even if it took place more than 25 years ago. To continue denying parole to applicants with a low risk of recidivism is expensive for the state of New York and detrimental to the incarcerated person’s family. Parole is especially important for middle-aged and elderly incarcerated individuals who are less likely to engage in recidivism and are facing increasing medical costs. The Board’s failure to grant parole to these incarcerated individuals results in unnecessary and expensive incarceration.
“I am proud that with the help of advocates, my colleagues in the Assembly, and the Senate I was able to help shepherd this critical legislation through the Committee on Correction,” said Assemblymember David Weprin. “The point of our correctional system is to reform people and this legislation brings us closer to that goal."
“After passing the Senate's Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee last week, I am proud that today my Fair and Timely Parole bill is taking another significant step by moving out of the Assembly's Committee on Correction”, said Senator Gustavo Rivera, the Senate sponsor of the bill. “I want to thank Assemblymember Weprin for his leadership on this issue and for prioritizing this bill, which will redesign our parole system in its entirety. This is just one more step in the efforts to end the mass incarceration that is bleeding our communities dry."
“The passage of Fair and Timely Parole in the Assembly Correction Committee, is an important and necessary step for us to take as a legislature if we are to be true champions of criminal justice reform,” said Senator Salazar. “This committee vote on Fair and Timely Parole brings us one step closer to a more equitable criminal justice system in New York by reforming parole and ensuring incarcerated individuals receive the second chance that they deserve. I am thankful to the advocates, Senator Rivera for sponsoring this bill, Assemblyman Weprin’s office, and everyone else who made this possible.”
"If signed into law, the Fair and Timely Parole Act would ensure that parole release decisions are based on who incarcerated people are today,” said TeAna Taylor, Policy and Communications Associate with the Release Aging People in Prison Campaign. “Rehabilitation and redemption would actually be taken into account rather than pure vengeance and retribution. It would also mean that people like my father, who will one day go before New York’s Parole Board, will actually receive a fair chance at release. Passage of this bill will immediately begin the work of reconnecting families that have for far too long been separated and fractured by mass incarceration. This bill offers a renewed hope for so many people who, like me, desperately need their loved ones back home where they can make tremendous contributions."
"For decades, the New York State Parole Board has perpetually denied parole release to tens of thousands of community-ready people based on what constitutes little more than 'gut feelings,' and 'speculation' that a person, if released, would violate the law,” said Jose Saldana, Director of the Release Aging People in Prison Campaign. The passage of the Fair and Timely Parole Act will put an end to this 'guesswork' and restore the parole release process back to its original purpose: To evaluate whether the person appearing before the Parole Board is now ready to return back to his/her family and home community."
"The Crime Victims Treatment Center applauds the passage of Fair and Timely Parole by the Correction Committee and calls upon the New York State legislature to fully pass this bill,” said Rachel Herzog, Program Coordinator at the Crime Victims Treatment Center. “As an organization dedicated to supporting the healing of survivors of violence, we believe in the innate capacity of all people to grow and change, and are hopeful that this bill will create a pathway for incarcerated individuals, many of whom are themselves survivors of violence, to have their own efforts towards growth, healing, and accountability recognized. We further hope that as our state moves to release from prison individuals who have made change in their lives and are no longer a threat to public safety, increased financial resources can now be dedicated to directly meeting the needs of crime survivors themselves, and to supporting efforts to end cycles of violence throughout our communities."
"I'm very happy to see that the Fair and Timely Parole Act will be voted out of the Assembly Correction Committee,” said Billy Davis, a member of VOCAL-NY. “I was denied Parole six times over a period of 12 years because of the nature of my crime, something that never changes no matter how much I had changed over the years. This bill will definitely save lives and give people a fair chance to be judged by who they are today, not the worst thing they've ever done."
Fair and Timely Parole will bring much-needed reform to the current parole system.