The Cynical Misguided Pushback on New York's Parole Board
New York’s Parole Board is under attack. And this time, it isn’t coming from those who have spent years challenging extreme sentencing policies that have led the United States to become the world’s warden. No, this time it’s state senators who are calling the system broken because parole board members are increasingly fulfilling their sworn duty to uphold the law.
Today, the current majority in the state Senate will begin to hold hearings to reinforce their position that the Parole Board releases too many people. Nothing could be further from the truth. What is true is that new regulations have begun to make a dent in the harsh and ineffective punishment paradigm that underpins our criminal legal system. It’s a dent that could, and should, be deepened.
These new regulations require parole decisions to consider an individual’s actual current risk to public safety and evidence of rehabilitation and remorse and reject the notion that people can be denied parole based solely on the crime that led them to prison.
A recent decision by the board to follow the law and release a person who had been turned down nine times was denounced by politicians and in the press because he killed a police officer, but no such concern was expressed about the former police officer serving a life sentence for murder who was released at his first hearing, despite the fact that he did not take responsibility for the murder and his release was opposed by the victim’s family. And what did we hear from these same senators? Crickets.