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Budget, Education & City Services

Community Board Five supports Senate Bill S1415A and Senate Bill S15A in relation to parole eligibility for certain incarcerated persons age fifty-five and older

The Executive Committee on behalf of Community Board Five passed the following resolution with a vote of 10 in favor; 0 opposed; 0 abstaining:

WHEREAS, NY Senate bill 15A amends current executive law and provides that a person 55 or older who has served at least 15 years of a sentence shall have an interview with the Board of Parole to determine whether they should be released to community supervision within 60 days of their 55th birthday or the last day of the 15th year of their sentence, whichever is later. If release is not granted, the person shall have a subsequent interview no more than 24 months later; and

WHEREAS, Senate bill S1415A provides that the Board of Parole shall release incarcerated persons who are eligible for release on parole, unless such person presents a current and unreasonable risk and such risk cannot be mitigated by parole supervision; and

WHEREAS, The Board of Parole is currently required to take into account the incarcerated persons' likelihood of committing future crimes upon release and to determine whether or not an incarcerated persons' release will "deprecate the seriousness of the crime." In practice, the Board does not often release an incarcerated person on their first appearance if the underlying crime was violent, even it if it took place more than 25 years prior to the board appearance and even when the incarcerated person has a low risk of reoffending; and

WHEREAS, Hundreds of incarcerated New Yorkers may never live to have an individualized release assessment, no matter how much they have changed in the years and decades since their conviction, and people serving life sentences are disproportionately Black and Latinx, and they are aging rapidly behind bars; and

WHEREAS, The legislation is estimated to save approximately $60,000 per year for every incarcerated person who is released upon the completion of their minimum sentence but who would have been kept in prison under current law (this savings figure does not take into account the budgetary needs for creating supporting resources to enable successful early paroles for approximately 10,000 would be eligible individuals, including housing, healthcare, jobs training programs, and other community support infrastructure); and

WHEREAS, Studies show that re-arrest rates for older adults released from prison are very small, particularly for those originally convicted of serious crimes. However, even as New York's prison population declined in the last two decades, the number of elders behind bars remained steady and as a result, grew substantially in percentage to the total prison population; and

WHEREAS, New York has the second-largest prison budget in the nation, spending between $100,000 and $240,000 annually for each incarcerated older adult, which the New York State Department of Correction and Community Supervision (DOCCS) defines as adults 55 years of age or older, due to the accelerated aging people experience while in prison; and

WHEREAS, This legislation  would ensure that older adults serving long sentences have an opportunity before the Parole Board to demonstrate their transformation; and

WHEREAS, The legislation would not require anyone, regardless of their age; to be released. Rather, it would empower the Parole Board to use its discretion by individually evaluating a person based on the factors established in Section 259-I of the Executive Law; and

WHEREAS, This legislation would bring hope to incarcerated people who have worked hard to change, as well as their families. It would allow people the chance to safely return to their communities and save the state hundreds of millions of dollars that could be reinvested to meet critical community needs; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five supports Senate Bill S1415A and Senate Bill S15A as a means of providing transparency and clarity for parole eligibility guidelines and ask that our area elected officials, bipartisan advocates, and Governor Cuomo support the legislative goals.

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