Parole Board Drags Its Feet on COMPAS

New York Law Journal


In order to address the tragedy of mass incarceration, we must include in the conversation the issues of parole and release for incarcerated people.

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What's being said

  • N. Carroll

    Thank you for highlighting this important yet often overlooked injustice. Lawyers and the legal community have a responsibility to pay more attention to the Board of Parole and hold them accountable for fairness and lawfulness in decision-making. Black lives in prison matter too -- as with everything about the criminal legal system, Black people and people of color are disproportionately harmed.

  • Judith Brink

    The practices and policies of the NYS Parole Board, including being influenced by form letters from people who know nothing more about the victim or the offender than the name of their crime, but are simply following orders from the PBA, do nothing to make anyone‘s life better in any way. Men and woman are left to languish in cages smaller than what a zoo animal is allowed, while their families limp along without them; their children are denied the parenting they deserve, communities are decimated, and no one is safer. It is time there was some oversight of this undeservedly powerful entity. No one sees the Parole Board who hasn‘t served the sentence they were given by the court. The Parole Board‘s charge is to evaluate the parole applicant‘s readiness to live a crime free life, not to bow to the thirst for vengeance of a group of strangers who have no knowledge of the person except what he or she was convicted of many years ago.

  • Naomi Jaffe

    As a friend and family member of people incarcerated in New York State, I have found nothing more despair-generating than the knowledge that in the eyes of the all-powerful Parole Board, there is nothing a person can do to demonstrate that he or she is ready to return to the community and make a positive contribution as a parent, spouse, employee, neighbor, and friend. There is a door in but no door out -- this in the face of overwhelming evidence that people who have done their time for serious crimes have the lowest likelihood of re-offending. I hope we live in a nation run by law and not by the police, but in its parole decisions the New York State Parole Board continues to answer to police pressure in defiance of the law, the intent of the legislature, the judiciary, public opinion, scientific research, justice, and common sense. Keeping people behind bars who could be an asset to their communities is cruel to the incarcerated person and his or her loved ones, does not protect society from harm, and deprives the most marginalized communities of the potential benefit of the returnee‘s contributions . Revenge as public policy is immoral and ineffective; let‘s replace it with outcome-based evaluation, compassion, and a concern for community well-being.

  • martn gugino

    Prison is the punishment. What happens in prison should be correction. While deterrence of others is one of the goals of incarceration, fairness and humanity should always be the goal of the society. While it possibly may be true that some people should never get out of jail, I can‘t accept that that should be true for many; that many people are beyond reach, if we cared, We live a society that casually justifies killing of young adults, has a presidential candidates who is bff with Mubarak, and imprisons a grandmother because "she poses a threat to a drone base commander" by getting too "close", whatever that means exactly. We have to do better, to be better.

  • Mujahid Farid

    This expose should get disseminated widely to the general public exposure. If the public is made aware that many of its institutions governing public safety have been hijacked by narrow interests, it would increase the chances of seeing change come about. The politicians and hacks who promote this activity need to operate in darkness. A little sunlight and the jig would be up!

  • Susie Day

    This is an educative, heartfelt, and long overdue statement about the need for the NY State correctional system to return to its actual job of rehabilitating people in prison; to turn away from pro forma degradation and punishment. And thank you for bringing up what‘s heretofore been an unspeakable topic: "convicted cop killers." As someone who regularly visits a few of these very people in NY prisons - people I‘ve become friends with over the years, and to whom i would trust my life - i can only say to the Parole Board: Please use COMPAS and whatever means that will let you see that these are not "offenders" or "inmates" or "felons." They are human beings who‘ve grown old feeling remorse, and becoming much wiser and stronger than most people on the outside. Contrary to posing any risk of recidivism, they would only enhance their communities and our world, if you were to let them out.

  • Chuck Culhane

    A most excellent overview of the NY parole board‘s unwillingness to carry out its own mandate. Several years ago Assemblyman Aubry said the board must be made to bend to the will of the legislature. So, too, with the governor. When an executive agency has become so politicized , and so fearful of entities such as the PBA, that it compromises their ability to function fairly and lawfully, then it is past time for the executive to address those basic deficiencies. Former parole Chairman George Alexander tried to create a new mind-set with the commissioners and parole officers, and he was set up and forced to resign. Why? Because he had some compassion and common sense, and was a Black man. More than three hundred and fifty Lifers were released on his watch, and Republicans cried "Jailbreak!" Not one of those released committed a new crime. Hopefully, this article will open some eyes. Thank you.

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