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Under the state of new york and similar states not terribly long ago, and in other parts of the world more recently, there are many examples for how political prisoners and prisoners of war gain freedom. It can be done.
Meanwhile, today in new york state, many of these avenues are closed or not working. As much as people are trying and possibly making strides toward bigger, stronger, tighter, more disciplined movements with broad and deep community involvement and support, capable of great deeds, time is ticking. Movement prisoners are getting older under harsh conditions and with horribly lacking healthcare and nutrition.
Most pps and pows in new york state prisons are facing special repression and discrimination for their political activity, views, and/or affiliations. Political discrimination and related vendettas may be keeping them locked up. However, there’s no way to tell, because the thing that is definitely keeping them locked up is also keeping many, many new york state prisoners locked up, regardless of politics.
NY State lets very few so-called “A1 violent felons” out . . . Ever. And they don’t let too many people out at all.
NY’s ruling elite have the conundrum of
1) needing to keep large sections of the population well below poverty levels so as to keep wages down and keep business profitable
2) needing to manage their “reserve army of labor” so that crime and revolt can’t hamper quality of life for the wealthy.
They do this through policing and mass imprisonment and part of their approach is keeping people locked up indefinitely at the expense of families, communities, and tax payers. (Recommended reading: Lockdown America by Christian Parenti)
The infuriating thing is that ny state just passed a law requiring the state parole board to use a risk-assessment procedure rather than using the “severity of the crime” as an excuse to keep people locked away forever, and they’re ignoring it. The parole board has elected to use the new procedure without allowing it to interfere with their old procedure or lack thereof. They have, in effect, arrogantly circumvented the law so as to keep a large group of people indefinitely under lock and key . . .
Excerpts from article . . .
“Effect of Risk Assessment Rule on Parole Decisions is Unclear”
April 30, 2012
ALBANY - A new law requiring the state parole board to consider inmates’ rehabilitation and use a “risk assessment” procedure to gauge whether parole-eligible inmates have reformed appears to be having little effect as release rates are largely unchanged and the board is routinely basing its denials on boilerplate statutory language emphasizing the offense, records suggest.
In October, the panel was legislatively required to “incorporate risk and needs principles to measure the rehabilitation of persons appearing before the board, the likelihood of success of such persons upon release.”
The board did so, but advocates say the new process appears to have no impact. . . .
In the meantime, advocates, and lawmakers who helped get the item into a budget bill, view the revision as a mandatory shift in focus, with the parole board directed to view eligible inmates in the light of who they have become rather than who they were when they committed their crime.
But the board sees it simply as an updated mechanism for viewing an inmate’s rehabilitation, one of the several statutory factors it already takes into consideration.
In an Oct. 5 memo to her colleagues explaining the new provision, parole board chair Andrea Evans directed the members to “ascertain what steps an inmate has taken toward their rehabilitation and the likelihood of their success once released to parole supervision.”
But Evans also advised the board that “the standard for assessing the appropriateness of release, as well as the statutory criteria…has not changed.”
But Philip Genty, a professor at Columbia Law School and director of its Prisoners and Families Clinic, is not sure there has been no change in the statutory standards, even though the section that lists the criteria is unaltered.
Genty noted that Executive Law §259-i(2)(a) says that release determinations must be in accordance with guidelines requiring written procedures focused on rehabilitation.
“In that sense, the criteria have changed, and parole seems to be out of compliance with the new requirements,” Genty said.
. . . . • The release rate for A-1 violent offenders appearing for the first time has decreased considerably since the new law took effect. So far this year, fewer than 4 percent have been granted parole. Last year, 10 percent were released, and 11 percent were granted parole in 2009 and 2010.
If you agree about this being infuriating, while this has your attention, take a moment to write, call, and/or email Chairwoman Andrea Evans. . .
Andrea W. Evans, Chairwoman
New York State Division of Parole
97 Central Ave
Albany, NY 12206
RE: Recent Amendment of Executive Law §259-c(4)
- express your concern and outrage over the parole commissioner’s arrogant refusal to adhere to the guidelines/standard of the new parole law now in effect
- demand that the parole commissioners stop refusing parole to those parole candidates who have long completed their court-set minimum sentences
- ask why those serving 25-life for violent felonies are condemned to additional 35 or more years for their crimes. Ask what is the purpose of rehabilitation and good behavior if nobody can get out?
- If you’re a new york state tax-payer, say so, and say that you don’t want your tax dollars going to keep people indefinitely in prison when the budget is so tight and money could be spent on other things.
- Say that people need to be reunited with their families and communities.
“You may also contact the Governor’s office by phone (518) 474-8390 or mail:”
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Once you’ve sent your letter and/or made your call, repost or reblog.
I should also mention that a tremendous reform of prison policy has been achieved at least on paper. . .
I truly hope that new york state, and other u.s. states and the federal system, will abide by these new guidelines rather than say, reverting to existing practices which have been horrific for trans and gender-non-conforming people in prisons. Of course, people are watching to see.
Oh and PS, down with prisons and long live every neighborhood, block, building, village, worksite, — long live every group of people capable of working collectively, defending themselves, taking care of each other, and holding each other accountable for each other’s actions and working to heal each other and themselves. I’m talking about the real ones, not the fakers. People working and living like neighbors is way better than police and prisons and way better at achieving peace. If you are out there, doing that, keep doing it because you are what I believe in.