• Photos: Walter Hergt • Here’s how it looked as we gathered in Albany on January 14, 2020, demanding that our elected officials end death by incarceration and advance parole justice. RAPP, the Parole Preparation Project and hundreds of others from across New York State mounted a Day of Action to pass Elder Parole (S.2144) and Fair and Timely Parole Act (S.497A). We marched, rallied, and met with dozens of New York State elected officials. Go to our Press page to read what the media had to say about the rally and the issues. And watch this space for more.
WHY: New York State has the eighth highest rate of people serving a life sentence in the country—roughly 9,200 people. More than 1,000 of them are serving Life Without Parole or virtual life without parole—with a minimum sentence of 50 years—sentences. 75 percent are People of Color.
Long and life sentences combined with few opportunities for release have created a crisis of aging, sickness and death in New York State prisons. There are now more than 10,000 people in NYS prisons—20% of the prison population—aged 50 or older; most are Black and Latinx. While the prison population in NYS fell by 27% between 2000 and 2016, the number of incarcerated older people more than doubled. Older people, especially those who have been convicted of the most serious crimes, pose little if any risk to public safety. In fact, when released, many formerly incarcerated older people engage in work that enhances public safety and community health.
To begin to scale back long and life sentences in New York State, promote the release of long serving incarcerated older people, and reunite families and communities, New Yorkers across the state are pushing for two pending legislative initiatives:
- Fair & Timely Parole (S.497A): A bill that would change the parole release process in New York State ensure that people are evaluated for release based on who they are today and not their crime of conviction.
- Elder Parole (S.2144): A bill that would allow people aged 55 or older who have served 15 or more years in prison a chance at release, regardless of their sentence or crime of conviction.
Both these bills made some progress in the 2019 state legislative session, but never made it to the floor for a vote. That’s why we need to be up in Albany at the beginning of the new 2020 legislative session. Come with us and be part of the solution.
MORE: Read more here about these bills and why we need them.