By: Kate Lisa, Spectrum News 1
Lawmakers took a hard look Wednesday at proposed legislation to reform New York state’s parole system and make it easier for incarcerated people to get a chance at release.
The Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Correction and Judiciary committees held a hearing in the Legislative Office Building to examine opinions about the Fair & Timely Parole and Elder Parole bills, which would reduce the number of elderly people in prison and long sentences.
The Fair and Timely Parole bill would allow the parole board to release a person from prison based on behavior and merit.
Elder Parole would make anyone over the age of 55 who has served 15 years in prison eligible for a parole hearing. The state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision classes an incarcerated person as “older” when they turn 55. A person’s life expectancy declines about two years each year they spend in prison.
“We teach individuals to be optimistic about life and we preach that the worst thing does not define you, but when you get before the parole board, there and moving forward, we are always looked at in that one measure of time on who we are — as if we’re not dynamic, but stagnant,” said Anthony Dixon, Parole Preparation Project director of community engagement.