Senate Passes Parole Legislation

James L. Seward

July 07, 2008

The New York State Senate today passed legislation (S.8614-A), sponsored by Senator Michael Nozzolio (R-C, Fayette) to address a court ruling that could have freed hundreds of prisoners without parole and affected thousands more who have been freed after serving their terms. The bill reflects a three-way agreement among the Senate, the Assembly, and the Governor.

In April, the Court of Appeals ruled that the state cannot impose post-release supervision on inmates as they exit prison when the judge who sentenced them neglected to require it.

"This important legislation is designed to keep thousands of violent criminals from being turned loose into our communities without proper post-release parole supervision," said Senator Michael F. Nozzolio, Chairman of the State Senate Crime Victims, Crime & Corrections Committee. "This agreement is critically important to protecting the public and underscores the important role which Parole Officers play in keeping our communities safe, It is my belief that this legislation will serve to address the technical loophole created by the Judiciary and establish a process to protect the public safety while also balancing individual's legal rights."

"This legislation will clear up a serious oversight that could have allowed violent criminals to be released from prison without any supervision," said Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno. "It will provide for identification and resentencing of criminals to ensure that post-release supervision is in place to monitor these dangerous individuals."

"This important legislation will send a loud and clear message that we will never allow the safety and security of all New Yorkers to be threatened due to lawyer-friendly loopholes and legal technicalities," said Senator Martin Golden (R-C, Brooklyn). "By preventing convicted criminals from freely roaming our streets and neighborhoods with no supervision, this important measure will help to combat crime, save lives, and prevent future tragedies from occurring."

The legislation would:

> Require those courts which failed to properly impose sentences as required by law to resentence those inmates affected by the courts’ errors;

> Establish a procedure for DOCS and Parole to identify these cases and to cause the courts to initiate resentencings;

> Impose a prescribed time frame within which the courts are mandated to perform the resentencings;

> Allow District Attorneys to preserve existing convictions in those cases where the defendant would have otherwise have a right to vacate his plea and demand a new trial by allowing the district attorney to consent to the original sentence imposed without the imposition of a period of post release supervision; and

These provision apply to all improperly sentenced inmates currently in prison or released and on parole supervision, and to those who have been reincarcerated on violations of post release supervision.

The bill was sent to the Assembly.