New York State Senator Pete Harckham questioned the decision to parole Samuel Ayala, who was convicted of a double murder and rape committed in South Salem over 43 years ago, in a letter sent on August 18, 2020, to Tina M. Sanford, Chair of the New York State Board of Parole at the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.
“It has been brought to my attention that Samuel Ayala has been recently granted parole,” writes Harckham in the letter. “I understand and appreciate the thoroughness of the process undertaken by the New York State Board of Parole in reviewing these cases; however, I want to impress upon your office the impact this will have on the community in which the crime occurred, as well as the children and the families of the victims.”
“Constituents in my district are concerned that someone guilty of such violent crimes would be released from prison,” Harckham adds. “Many of the same residents, friends and family members of the victims still live in the region and are concerned not only for their welfare but the negative psychological impacts that the release of Mr. Ayala would cause. It does not seem in the best interest of the community to grant parole to this individual.
“Additionally, Covid-19 and the subsequent restrictions on a courtroom presence for this hearing did not allow for these same family members and friends of the victims to present their concerns in person. I understand the need to maintain social distance and a reduced density, but that in a case of this nature accommodations were not made for them to present their concerns directly to the Board of Parole as they have done in the past is entirely dismaying.”