Advocates push for NY lawmakers to expand parole eligibility

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ALBANY, NY (WENY) — Wednesday morning, advocates and some lawmakers gathered before a Senate committee hearing to address two pieces of pending legislation about parole eligibility.

Many advocates emphasized that the bills would provide fairer parole opportunities for incarcerated individuals.

“As it stands most people who go before the parole board are denied simply for the nature of their crime. And all of the things that they have done while incarcerated are not really considered,” said TeAna Taylor, Co-Director of Policy and Communications of the Release Aging People in Prison campaign.

And for many these bills are personal. Taylor’s 49-year-old father is currently in prison and will have opportunity for parole in 2026. She said these bills could help him.

“When the Fair and Timely parole bill is passed, my father will actually be looked at for the fact that he facilitates victim awareness programs inside, the fact that he’s gotten multiple degrees, the fact that he has done a litany of volunteer assignments while incarcerated,” she said.

The two pieces of legislation would essentially expand parole eligibility. One bill provides that a person 55 or older who has served at least 15 years of a sentence should have an interview with the Board of Parole to determine whether they should be released to community supervision.

The other bill provides that the Board of Parole release an incarcerated person who is eligible for parole, unless they present a current and unreasonable risk.

The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision stated in an email they do not comment on pending legislation. They referred WENY to a statement defining the role of the New York Board of Parole.

“Board members must follow the statutory requirements which take ‎into consideration many factors, including statements made by victims and victims’ families, if any, as well as an individual’s criminal history, institutional accomplishments, potential to successfully reintegrate into the community, and perceived risk to public safety.”

Any progress made on this legislation will likely happen when legislative session starts in January.


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