Chief Judge Lippman Proposes Eliminating Indeterminate Sentences

The proposal calls for determinate sentences for all new non-violent sentences. One cannot support this without understanding what determinate sentences are proposed. From my perspective this proposal will at best keep the status quo with regard to how much time people will serve on particular charges. In some cases it will be worse.

It also ignores the fact that all lifers and all people currently serving indeterminate sentences will be stuck with indeterminate sentences and the vagaries of the parole board.

Based up the most recent DOCCS statistics, 18% of all people in NY prisons are serving life sentences. (Yes that is breathtaking). That is more than 10,000 people. That means that 2 out of every 10 prisoners in NY are serving a life sentence. All total, 43% of all people in prison in NY are serving indeterminate sentences and they will all remain in the parole board pipeline. That means that 23,263 people will not benefit from determinate sentencing and will continue to circulate through the parole board.

If they are moving to determinate sentencing, at least in part because the parole board is broken, then that leaves an awful lot of people to suffer under a broken parole board. That is one small part of what is wrong with Judge Lippman’s proposal.

Alan Rosenthal


Center for Community Alternatives

115 East Jefferson Street, Suite 300

Syracuse, New York 13202

Phone (315) 422-5638 X227

FAX: (315) 471-4924

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