Home » Legislature » From the desk of PEF President Wayne Spence: Less is More Legislation

From the desk of PEF President Wayne Spence: Less is More Legislation

From the desk of PEF President Wayne Spence

PEF Parole Members: As you may know, Senator Benjamin and Assemblyman Mosley have introduced the “Less is More” anti-parole legislation.  If passed and signed into law, this legislation would most likely have an extremely negative impact on violating parolees when it comes to revocation discretion of presumptive release, parole, conditional release and post-release supervision.  

Because of the danger this legislation presents, President Spence and Assistant Council Leader Gina Lopez quickly secured and held face-to-face meetings with Assembly Speaker Heastie, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Senator Benjamin and Assemblyman Mosley to explain how this bill would limit the role of parole officers and endanger public safety in our communities.

As a result of these conversations, the “bill” sponsors are seeking guidance and recommendations from PEF leadership to amend and incorporate within the current language.

President Spence has scheduled a meeting in Albany for all PEF-elected parole leaders on May 28, 2019. During this meeting your elected leaders will provide their expertise and assist the PEF legislative department with revisions. With only one month left in the legislative session, the PEF legislative department will then work quickly with the bill sponsors on these language changes.

For your convenience the bill language is hyperlinked here S.1343ab  (Benjamin) and  A.5493  (Mosley) and sponsor memo is below. Please take a moment to read through the bill language and memo and contact your PEF parole leader with any suggestions you would like them to bring to the Albany meeting.

We will keep you updated as this process moves along.

Senator Benjamin Memo of Support

BILL NUMBER: S1343B

SPONSOR: BENJAMIN

TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the executive law and the penal law, in relation to revocation of presumptive release, parole, conditional release and post- release supervision

PURPOSE:
Ensures the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision focuses resources on helping people successfully complete community supervision and avoid any future return to DOCCS custody or supervision.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

EXISTING LAW:

JUSTIFICATION:

New York reincarcerates more people on parole for technical violations like missing an appointment with a parole officer, being late for curfew, or testing positive for alcohol than any state in the country except Illinois. Of people on parole whom New York sent back to prison in 2016, over 6,300 or 65% were reincarcerated for technical parole violations. That’s five times the national average. Only 1,318 or 14% of parolees who were reincarcerated were returned to prison because they were convicted of a new crime.

The racial disparity is stark: black people are incarcerated in New York City jails for technical parole violations at more than 12 times the rate of whites. There are approximately 35,000 people under active parole supervision in New York State who at almost any time can see their efforts to success- fully rejoin the workforce and reintegrate into their families and their communities disrupted by re-incarceration for a technical violation. 

This not only harms individual lives and families without commensurate public safety gains, but also drives up the population in the state prisons and local jails, wasting taxpayer money. Other states, such as Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah, have already implemented reforms similar to those proposed here, reducing community supervision populations and curbing violations. According to research on the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance Justice Reinvestment Initiative (“JRI”) published by the Pew Charitable Trusts, in eighteen JRI states (AK, AR, AZ, DE, GA, ID, KS, KY, LA, MD, MO, MS, MT, NH, OR, SC, SD, UT) releasees can shorten their supervision periods by up to 30 days for 30 days of compliance. Further, sixteen Justice Reinvestment states have put caps or guidelines on how long individuals can serve for a technical violation of supervision conditions (AK, AL, AR, GA, HI, ID, KS, LA, MD, MO, MS, MT, NC,OK, PA, UT).

These reforms have worked. After South Carolina adopted graduated sanctions, compliance revocations decreased 46 percent, and recidivism rates for people under supervision dropped by a third. Meanwhile, crime rates dropped by over 20 percent. Similarly, after Louisiana implemented caps on jail or prison terms for first-time technical violations, length of incarceration declined by 281 days and 22% fewer people under community supervision were sent back to prison for new crimes. After Missouri adopted earned time credits for people on probation and parole, supervision terms dropped by 14 months, the supervised population fell 18 percent, average caseloads decreased 16 percent, and recidivism rates did not change.

Permitting people to earn accelerated discharge off community supervision will responsibly shrink the number of people subject to such supervision, and allow us to concentrate our finite resources on those who are most in need and who pose the greatest risks. New York can reduce jail and prison populations, support people in the reentry process, and promote safety and justice for families and communities.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:

New Bill

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:

A single year of incarceration for one individual costs the state approximately $60,000. With a significant fraction of parolees no longer incarcerated for technical parole violations, it is anticipated to reduce state and local costs accordingly.

LOCAL FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:

A single year of incarceration for one individual costs the state approximately $60,000. With a significant fraction of parolees no longer incarcerated for technical parole violations, it is anticipated to reduce state and local costs accordingly.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day after it shall have become a law. Effective immediately, the addition, amendment and/or repeal of any rule or regulation necessary for the implementation of this act on its effective date are authorized and directed to be made and completed on or before such effective date.

Together, we will continue to fight for dignity and respect for all members!

In Unity,

Wayne Spence