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NY Legislators Push To Consider Parole For Prisoners Who’ve Served 15 Years, Regardless Of Crime
Open door to prison cell
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This month, roughly 20 New York legislators pushed for a package they dubbed “Justice Roadmap 2021.” Within that package was what they called the Elder Parole Bill (S.2144/A.9040), which would require that “incarcerated New Yorkers over age 55 who have served 15 or more consecutive years be considered for parole regardless of their crime or sentence,” as NNY 360 reported.

Sponsored by New York State senator Brad Holman and cosponsored by state senators Alessandra Biaggi, Neil Breslin, Leroy Comrie, and Michael Gianaris, Senate Bill S2144  states:

Notwithstanding any other section of the law, where a person serving a sentence of incarceration has served at least fifteen years of a determinate or indeterminate sentence and has reached the age of fifty-five or greater, the board shall conduct a hearing pursuant to this section and section two-hundred-fifty nine-I of this article to determine whether such person should be released to community supervision. If the board determines that there is a reasonable probability that, if such person is released, he or she will live and remain at liberty without violating the law and that his or her release is not incompatible with the welfare of society, then the board shall release the person to community supervision even if the person has not served the minimum sentence imposed by  the judge.

The bill adds that if release is “not granted, the inmate shall be informed in writing within two weeks of such appearance of the factors and reasons for the denial of such release and the board shall specify a date not more than twenty-four months from such determination for reconsideration, and the procedures to be followed upon reconsideration shall be the same. If release to community supervision is granted, the board shall set release conditions and the provisions of this section shall otherwise apply as though the inmate was released after the completion of his or her minimum sentence.”

The bill’s sponsors offer their justification for their bill as follows:

The number of older inmates in our prison system is rising every year even as the total inmate population is falling. The population of state prisoners over the age of 50 has increased by 81 percent since 2000. On January 1, 2007, there were 63,304 inmates in the prison system, with an average age of 36.5. On that date there were 1,572 inmates in the system over 60 years of age. Ten years later, on January 1, 2016, there were 52,344 inmates in state correctional facilities, 2,389 of whom were over the age of 60, and the average age had risen to 38.2.

The number of inmates over 60 rose from 2.5 percent of the prison population in 2007 to 4.6 percent in 2016.  Longer minimum sentences since the 1980’s and lower parole release rates since the 1990’s ensure that our prison population will continue to age over the coming years, forcing the prison system to open more geriatric nursing care units and expand the existing resources for inmates suffering from dementia, diabetes, heart disease and other physical and cognitive disabilities relating to old age.

The bill has sparked backlash online:

“Abatement Ab Initio” refers to the concept that the death of a defendant who is appealing a criminal conviction vacates the conviction.

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