Alters the composition of the state board of parole to include members who shall adequately reflect the composition of the prison population in race, age, and geographic area of residence and who are selected in consultation with the Correctional Association of New York.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the executive law, in relation to the composition of the state board of parole
PURPOSE: To change the composition of the state board of parole to reflect the prison population that it serves and to ensure professional diversity among its members.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1 amends subdivision 1 of section 259-b of the executive law, to require that the members of the board of parole be appointed by the governor, with the advice and consent of the senate and in consultation with the Correctional Association of New York. Additionally, there may not he more than nineteen nor less than fifteen members on the board and the members must reflect the composition of the prison population in race, age, and geographic area of residence. At least one-third of all members must have a minimum of five years previous employment experience in the areas of prison reentry or social services.
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: Currently the composition of the NYS prison inmate population is 49.5% African American, 24.6% Hispanic, 23.1% White, and 2.8% Other. The average age of an inmate is 37.5; 47.5% are from New York City and 23.9% are from Upstate Urban areas. However, the NYS Parole Board does not reflect the: copulation at all.
While African Americans and Latinos are overrepresented in the prison population, they are underrepresented in most every other area of the criminal justice system, including membership on the Parole Board. Currently, the Board consists of a majority of Caucasian members. It is important that the Board reflect the population it is required to serve.
Moreover, it is important that the Board issues fair decisions. 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.
Since 1991 the percentage of prisoners released on parole has drastically declined. 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.
In order to achieve the standard set in the Executive Law, the Parole Board needs a diverse membership that reflects the prison population and includes members with a background that gives them a perspective other than law enforcement.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2012-2013 - New Bill
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 4431--A 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE April 1, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sens. MONTGOMERY, DILAN, GIPSON, HASSELL-THOMPSON -- 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 the composition 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 board shall consist of not more than nineteen members AND NOT LESS THAN FIFTEEN MEMBERS appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate AND IN CONSULTATION WITH THE CORRECTIONAL ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK. IN MAKING APPOINTMENTS TO THE BOARD, THE GOVERNOR SHALL ENSURE THAT THE MEMBERSHIP SHALL ADEQUATELY REFLECT THE COMPOSITION OF THE PRISON POPULATION IN RACE AND ETHNICITY, AGE, AND GEOGRAPHIC AREA OF RESIDENCE. THE PERCENTAGE OF EACH DEMOGRAPH- IC CHARACTERISTIC OF THE MEMBERS SHALL BE DIRECTLY PROPORTIONATE TO THAT OF THE PRISON POPULATION. ADDITIONALLY, AT LEAST ONE-THIRD OF THE MEMBERS SHALL HAVE BEEN PREVIOUSLY EMPLOYED IN THE FIELDS OF PRISONER REENTRY OR SOCIAL WORK, EACH WITH A MINIMUM OF FIVE YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN THEIR RESPECTIVE FIELDS. The term of office of each member of suchEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD09336-05-4 S. 4431--A 2
board shall be for six years; provided, however, that any member chosen to fill a vacancy occurring otherwise than by expiration of term shall be appointed, IN THE MANNER SPECIFIED ABOVE, 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 contin- uance 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, 2015. 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, 2015, so that such board may be fully oper- ative on and after such date. S 3. This act shall take effect immediately.