Senate Passes Legislation to Protect Communities From Violent Felons

May 16, 2016

The New York State Senate today passed legislation to protect communities from violent felons given early release from prison. The bill (S2720), sponsored by Senator Joseph Griffo (R-C-I, Rome), authorizes the State Board of Parole to require a violent felony offender to serve his or her maximum term if they pose an imminent threat to society and also authorizes the withholding of good behavior allowances.

Senator Griffo said, “If someone has proven they are capable of hurting other people, and admit they would likely do it again, then I believe we have a duty to the victims of their crimes and to society as a whole to incarcerate these violent individuals for as long as legally possible. No criminal should be allowed back out on the street without serving their full prison sentence if they themselves have acknowledged they will remain a dangerous threat to society. No victim of a future crime wants to hear, despite every warning the perpetrator would strike again, that a dangerous criminal was allowed to walk free before their prison time was complete simply because the State Parole Board’s hands were tied from holding them any longer. This proposed legislation would allow State Parole the discretion to keep a threatening inmate behind bars for as long as possible, and I encourage the Assembly to do what’s right to protect society.”

Under current law, the Board of Parole does not have authorization to grant or deny a conditional release, and this becomes problematic when evidence exists that an inmate poses a danger to the community. In 2011, convicted serial rapist Robert Blainey, who had been released early from prison on parole due to merit time earned for good behavior, sexually assaulted and killed a woman in Utica, Oneida County. Prior to his release, Blainey was quoted in Parole Board transcripts stating, “Society is safer with me in prison. I can sit here and tell you people I'm not going to do it, I'm not going to do it, but it's not going to make a bit of difference.”

This measure would allow the state to deny inmates a conditional release with parole supervision if they pose an imminent threat to communities. It ensures violent felons serve their full sentence, without being given the opportunity to be released early due to good behavior in prison.

The bill has been sent to the Assembly. 

Senators Involved