RESIDENTS CALLING FOR NYS BOARD OF PAROLE REFORM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Some area residents are calling for state and local legislators to make changes to the New York State Board of Parole.“The parole board is in some serious need of reform as is the Department of Corrections,” said Ann Robinson of Irondequoit.Robinson said she began learning how to navigate the criminal justice system after her significant other was imprisoned for a DWI.“Their stated mission is to rehabilitate people, to prepare them for return to community,” Robinson said, but she added that mission failed when the state parole board denied his release for not completing the required alcohol and substance abuse training. She said the prison never even gave him a chance to participate in the program before his hearing.“He waited over eight or nine months, 10 months, to get into that program so he was turned down for parole and the automatic turndown is usually two more years until a person can go up for a parole review again,” Robinson said.On Saturday, Robinson was just one of many demanding more transparency, fairness, and accountability in the parole system. This was through the event “Criminal Justice Exposed” which discussed these issues through documentaries and art. Local defense attorney Cheryl Kates-Benman highlighted the case of Thomas Johnson III, who is charged in the death of Rochester Police Officer Daryl Pierson. She said he was on post-release supervision and when he failed to report to his probation officer, it took the board eight to nine days before issuing his warrant.“I think our questions need to be more directed to why didn’t the parole division in Monroe County and Rochester issue the warrant to look for the person who absconded well before the 27th of August?,” Kates-Benman said.While Time Warner Cable News was unable to reach the parole board for comment, many residents said it’s more than just about targeting the criminal justice system.“Police got to work with the community. The community has to work with the police. We all have to help each other. We got to create jobs, we got to look out for people who [are in] need,” said local filmmaker Taunja Isaac.Robinson agreed.“It takes a village, beyond a village, a nation to make a better life for us all, especially for people incarcerated. They need massive help to reform and become productive members of our society. I think it’s possible,” said Robinson. – See more at: http://rochester.twcnews.com/content/news/772690/residents-calling-for-new-york-state-board-of-parole-reform/#sthash.qbwGjFwS.FRcTt6sx.dpuf

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