Alters the composition of the state board of parole to include members to be appointed upon the recommendation of the four legislative leaders.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the executive law, in relation to altering the membership of the state board of parole
PURPOSE: To distribute the appointing authority of the state board of parole among the Governor, Senate and Assembly. On and after January 1,2012 the Parole Board shall consist of 19 members. Of such members nine shall be appointed by the governor, three shall be appointed upon recommendation of the temporary president of the senate, three shall be appointed upon the recommendation of the speaker of the assembly, two shall be appointed upon the recommendation of the minority leader of the senate and two shall be appointed upon the recommendation of the minority leader of the assembly.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1 amends subdivision 1 of section 259-b of the executive law, as amended by section 38a of subpart A of part C of chapter 62 of the laws of 2011, to require that the members of the board of parole be appointed by the governor, the temporary president of the senate, the speaker of the assembly, the minority leader of the senate, and the minority leader of the assembly.
EXISTING LAW: Under subdivision 1 of section 259-b of the executive law, the governor appoints not more than 19 members of the parole board with the advice and consent of the Senate.
JUSTIFICATION: The Executive Law mandates that in making a parole release decision, the following factors are to be considered: the institutional record including program goals and accomplishments, academic achievements, vocational education, training or work assignments, therapy and interpersonal relationships with staff and inmates; performance, if any, as a participant in a temporary release program; release plans including community resources, employment, education and training and support services available to the inmate; and the written statement of the crime victim or the victim's representative (see Executive Law 259-i(2) (e)). This mandate, however, has been undermined by the Parole Board as a result of a shift in parole policy.
In 1991, the New York State Board of Parole granted parole to 66.7 percent of the 22,604 inmates who applied when they had served their minimum sentences. Since 1995, the rate of parole has steadily declined, so that by 1999, the parole rate had dropped to 46.6 percent of those seeking parole for the first time. After a denial, the parole board can require an inmate to wait up to two years before reapplying. The approval rates for later appearances have fallen by similar amounts.
Parole has dropped most sharply for inmates convicted of violent crimes like murder, assault, rape and robbery. For these criminals, the release rate fell from 24 percent of applicants at initial
interviews in 1991 to 8 percent in 1998. For other categories of violent crimes, the drop matched the decrease for all inmates.
The sharp drop in parole rates is the result of two major changes in parole laws since 1995 in an effort to get tough on crime. In 1995, a law was passed that requires all people convicted of a second violent felony to serve 85 percent of their sentences. And in 1998, Jenna's Law required that all violent felons serve 85 percent of their terms.
This shift in policy away from determining parole based on an individual, case-by-case basis to an en masse denial of parole based on the original crime undermines the purpose of parole. Parole is advantageous to the offender, to the state and to society as a whole for a number of reasons. The offender has the benefit of a shorter time behind bars and a period of time under supervision to adjust to life on the outside while still having access to certain support services. Parole helps reconnect the offender with family relationships sooner; less harm is done to the family structure, reducing the social cost of family breakdown. There is also a reduced risk of criminal socialization which can occur in prison. It is also far less expensive for the individual to be on parole rather than behind bars. It costs approximately $32,000 a year to maintain a prisoner. Overcrowding in prisons is also eased. The monitoring of individuals on parole allows a measure of control and safety for the community while permitting the parole officer to evaluate whether a parolee is adjusting successfully to life on the outside. A person with the opportunity to adjust gradually to life outside prison poses less danger to society than one who walks out the prison door unprepared.
Parole also plays an important role in maintaining order in correctional facilities. Correctional facilities use the enticement of good time to induce prisoners to participate in programs and maintain good behavior while incarcerated. without this inducement, maintaining order in the State's overcrowded prisons would be more difficult.
In order that the mandates for parole be followed, it is necessary that the Legislature have the authority to appoint members of the parole board. This legislation will give the Legislature the authority to recommend members of the Parole Board to the Governor. This will help ensure that parole policy, as established by the Legislature under the Executive Law, will be observed.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2001-2002: S.2549A Died in Committee 2003-2004: S.1633 Died in Committee 2005-2006: S.1565 Died in Committee 2007-2008: S.2013 Died in Committee 2009-2010: S.1268A Died in Committee
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 103--A 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 5, 2011 ___________Introduced by Sens. MONTGOMERY, DIAZ, DILAN, DUANE, HASSELL-THOMPSON, KRUEGER, PARKER, STAVISKY -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction -- recommitted to the Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction in accordance with Senate Rule 6, sec. 8 -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee AN ACT to amend the executive law, in relation to altering the member- ship of the state board of parole THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivision 1 of section 259-b of the executive law, as amended by section 38-a of subpart A of part C of chapter 62 of the laws of 2011, is amended to read as follows: 1. There shall be in the department a state board of parole
[which]THAT shall possess the powers and duties hereinafter specified. The board shall function independently of the department regarding all of its decision-making functions, as well as any other powers and duties specified in this article, provided, however, that administrative matters of general applicability within the department shall be applica- ble to the board. [Such]ON AND AFTER JANUARY FIRST, TWO THOUSAND THIR- TEEN, SUCH board shall consist of [not more than]nineteen members [appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate], NINE OF WHOM SHALL BE APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR, THREE OF WHOM SHALL BE APPOINTED BY THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, THREE OF WHOM SHALL BE APPOINTED BY THE SPEAKER OF THE ASSEMBLY, TWO OF WHOM SHALL BE APPOINTED BY THE MINORITY LEADER OF THE SENATE, AND TWO OF WHOM SHALL BE APPOINTED BY THE MINORITY LEADER OF THE ASSEMBLY. The term of office of each member of such board shall be for six years; provided, however, that any member chosen to fill a vacancy occurring otherwise than byEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD01513-02-2 S. 103--A 2
expiration of term shall be appointed for the remainder of the unexpired term of the member whom he OR SHE is to succeed. In the event of the inability to act of any member, the governor may appoint some competent informed person to act in his OR HER stead during the continuance of such disability. S 2. The state board of parole as constituted on the effective date of this section is hereby abolished as of January 1, 2013. Members of the state board of parole as constituted pursuant to the provisions of subdivision 1 of section 259-b of the executive law, as amended by section one of this act, shall be appointed by the appropriate state official prior to January 1, 2013, so that such board may be fully oper- ative on and after such date. S 3. This act shall take effect immediately.