CURE-NY Winter/SPRING 2016 Newsletter
Dear CURE-NY Friends,
A basic membership is $ 10.00. Please renew your membership as memberships expired on December 31,
2015, unless you sent dues after July.
We changed to a new system where the membership begins January 1st and expires December 31 so it is easier to keep track of everyone.
If you are incarcerated you have the option of sending a reduced membership of $ 2.00-10.00. Please send
what you can. The dues can be mailed to CURE NY PO Box 1542 Fairport, NY 14450.
If you are on the outside please send your current email address to:
This will be the last newsletter you will receive if you are not a member of CURE-NY.
Cheryl L. Kates-Benman Esq. & Deb Bozydaj Co-Presidents CURE-NY
CURE NY 2016 POLICY INITIATIVES
Support changes in parole law to examine culpability for actual innocence and felony murder convictions;
Support the initiative to appoint ex-incarcerated people to serve on the NYS Parole Board;
Support efforts to educate public about domestic violence and intimate partner violence;
Support the use of the domestic violence exception for work release, for women who were convicted of
killing their abusive spouse;
Support the increased use of technology within NYS prisons;
Support the reform of current solitary confinement, care of disabled inmates and mental health care in
Support efforts to reform the parole law regarding secret practices of confidential information, increase
accountability of the DOCCS regarding re-entry initiatives and use of evidence-based procedure.
Angela Jackson is the Co-Secretary of CURE New York, where she works closely with the Co-
Presidents to bring light to the many injustices in the correctional system. She holds Masters
Degrees in both Public Administration and Business Administration. She is the President of TFL
Services & Pen Pals, an administrative company dedicated to assist incarcerated individuals with
tasks they are often unable to accomplish in their current circumstances, as well as assist in
finding pen pal relationships with others to enhance their rehabilitation. TFL offers to its clients a
bi-monthly newsletter, highlighting their stories, providing them writing and communication
tips, and success stories of others who have walked in their shoes. Angela met her own husband
through a pen pal service, and knows first-hand the direct link to improved mental state brought
about by maintaining external familial relationships while incarcerated. Her 2016 initiatives with
CURE New York are highlighted by a desire to improve rehabilitation services provided to the
incarcerated population of New York, to better prepare men and women who have been in prison
for extensive lengths of time for not only meeting a parole board, but to be ready to exist in a
society that has evolved without them. Angela can be contacted regarding her organization or her
rehabilitation platform through TFL at PO Box O-171, Glenham, NY 12527.
BAD AZZ CURE NY ATTORNEYS BREAK GROUND IN PAROLE CASES
Cheryl L. Kates- Benman Esq. and Chris NG Esq.
It’s been a big season for CURE NY as Cheryl L. Kates- Benman and Chris NG, in their private
practices lead the way in parole reform through litigation. Chris NG won Bruetsch v. NYS
DOCCS in Sullivan County. This case examines the way the Parole Board renders conclusory
decisions focusing on solely the nature of the crime. He also walked his first lifer out of prison.
Way to go Chris.
Kates, a long-time advocate of the new evidence-based procedures argued since 2011, the risk
assessment criteria was not applied correctly and the TAP plans were not initiated and used by
corrections as the legislature intended with the enactment of Corrections Law 71 (a).
In the fall, Kates triumphed first with Khan v DOCCS, Kossoy v. DOCCS and Senke v. DOCCS
wherein the Appeals Unit finally ruled the TAP plan (Offender Case Plan) was needed in the
parole file for individuals who entered DOCCS after 2011. This was a limited ruling which was
not providing any remedy for those incarcerated before 2011. Weeks later, the Appeals Unit
provided additional relief in Sistrunk v, DOCCS, where the Appeals Unit ruled after codifying in
the law in July 2014 the new written procedures, a TAP plan was necessary for all people who
appeared at the parole board after this date. Kates re-submitted a massive number of cases for
reconsideration after this ruling which most resulted in a reversal. This remedy is wide-spread. It
involves a year and a half of erroneously decided parole appeals holding DOCCS did not have to review a
TAP plan for anyone incarcerated prior to 2011.
THE WORK RELEASE EXCEPTION
Cheryl L. Kates- Benman Esq.
CURE NY Advisory Council member Michelle Lennon falls under the work-release exception. The
subject and purpose of this exception is to permit certain violent felons to participate in the
Department of Correctional Services'(DOCCS) temporary release program when the inmate was
subjected to substantial physical, sexual, or psychological abuse by their victim, and it is proven that
such abuse was a causal factor in the inmate’s offense as indicated in the legislative history.
Under current law, inmates serving sentences for homicides and certain assaults are not
eligible to participate in a temporary release program. Effective in 2002, Section 851 of Correction
Law authorizes the Commissioner of DOCS to permit inmates serving sentences for homicide or
assault offenses, who are eligible for parole or will become eligible for release on parole or
conditional release within two years, to participate in a temporary release program.
The criteria indicates:
• the victim of such homicide or assault was a member of the inmate’s immediate family,
or had a child in common with the inmate;
• the victim subjected the inmate to substantial physical, sexual, or psychological abuse;
and such abuse was a substantial factor in leading the inmate to commit the crime.
CURE NY’s co-president Cheryl L. Kates- Benman (in her private practice) challenged DOCCS
denial of allowing Lennon to apply for work-release. In March 2015, despite becoming eligible in
2012, Lennon was finally permitted the opportunity to apply for work release just to be denied
regarding the nature of the crime. DOCCS refused to allow Ms. Lennon any additional relief, despite
denying her the right to apply for a period in excess of three years.
Lennon, was instrumental in assisting CURE NY identify major issues presenting at Taconic CF for
women who are incarcerated. Among the issues identified were mental cruelty, lack of programs,
lack of DOCCS to satisfy offering programs so the women could qualify for merit release (Taconic
failed to have an instructor for General Business). Lennon now suffers as the target of correctional
officers who are writing her retaliatory disciplinary tickets.
Lennon was a victim of severe domestic violence. She tried to escape her abuser on numerous
occasions however he always found her and made her return. Lennon is currently serving a life
sentence for her role in her abuser’s murder. Lennon appeared before the Parole Board in February
2016.Parole was denied. Efforts are continuing to attempt to gain work release and or parole on her
CURE NY will continue efforts to expose and advocate for women who are eligible for work release
under the exception in 2016. A conference is currently being planned in Rochester NY in the fall
along with Rochester Woman Magazine. Women who are victims of domestic violence deserve a
chance to start over. This is especially true when they have served their minimum prison sentence
and are eligible for release.
***Call to action: If you would like to support the release of victims of domestic violence on parole
and or through work release please share your views with Cure NY. Submissions may be sent to:
CURE NY – PO Box 1542 , Fairport, NY 14450
SPOTLIGHT ON MENTAL ILLNESS
Cheryl L. Kates- Benman Esq.
In memory of Benjamin Van Zandt, who committed suicide while in solitary confinement at
Fishkill, NY in October 2014, Co-President Cheryl L. Kates- Benman supported the efforts of a
young lady who also suffered from bouts of mental illness. A.G. by the age of 14, made several
attempts to commit suicide. CURE NY appeared and recognized her for her efforts in the
“Suicide Walk” for the Federation of Suicide Prevention. Kates hung a memory butterfly on the
tree of hope in honor of her former client Ben. What was most memorable of this event is the
impact suicide had on the family members left behind.
Kates spoke with various people participating in the event. The stories were not to be forgotten.
While walking through the vendors one of the objects on display was a quilt. The quilt contained
pictures of people from all walks of life who chose to end their life through suicide. The one
question which lingered after participating was why?
Along with Mrs. Monroe County America, Rosina Miller, Kates and CURE NY join her in her
efforts to spread the word about the challenges of mental illness. Join the pair at the NAMI walk
May 7, 2016 in Rochester, NY.
Cheryl and Rosina (below) Cheryl and Michelle Lennon ( below)
Congratulations to Scot Ebanks, on his recent release. CURE NY worked on his campaign
for freedom and he was part of the events CURE NY sponsored last year. Efforts in gaining his
release included the release of a documentary film. Seen above, film producer Tawanda from
CNN, Cheryl, and Scott were filmed for Scot’s first 24 hours after release as part of an
upcoming series on CNN focusing on re-entry.
Why Should We Raise the Age in NYS?
By Board member Alicia Barraza
Unless you have had a teenager involved in the criminal system, most individuals are not aware
that NYS is only one of two states in the country that automatically charges 16 and 17-year-olds
as adults. This has been the case since the 1960s. Imagine your teenager being interrogated by
police without your presence or an attorney.
The police can make all kinds of promises and outright lie to get them to sign a confession.
Under these circumstances, teenagers have been known to give false confessions. It’s like
taking candy from a child, except they are taking much more than that. They are taking their
futures and hurting their families.
Today we have more fact-based evidence than ever before that the practice of treating
adolescents as adults in the criminal system is counter- productive and damaging. We know
that a teenager’s brain is still developing and that they function differently than a 30-year- old.
So punishing a teenager with adult prison time is not a deterrent when it is in their nature to act
impulsively and not think of the consequences. Taking some risks and making mistakes is what
allows them to experience, learn and mature.
In addition, recent studies have shown that adolescents processed in New York adult courts
were more likely to reoffend, compared to adolescents in states where they are processed in
juvenile court. Yet, for lack of public interest, apathy, opposition, or other reasons, the New York
State legislature has been unwilling to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18. Now is the
UPCOMING EVENTS: CURE NY
VOICES BEYOND THE WALL RADIO
April 17, 2016 – Cheryl L. Kates- Benman and Stakk Citi Mayehem will be guests on the Voices
Beyond the Wall radio show with Ernest Henry. This can be streamed live via the internet at 91.3
FM through Vassar College. Special Guests include the kids from Hip Hop Ed.
June 12, 2016 – Voices Beyond the Wall Radio. Topic TBA
March 30, 2016 – Audrey Thomas Esq. hosts the weekly program on Wednesday evenings from
11:00 pm- 12:00 am. Cheryl L. Kates-Benman and Stakk Citi Mayehem will appear discussing
the current projects etc. WVIP 93.5 FM. Listen online at athttp://tunein.com/radio/WVIP-
March 30, 2016
Co-President Cheryl L. Kates- Benman will be on hand at the Nancy Coons Art Show in NYC
from (5 pm -11 pm) at Rustico Restaurant 135 First Avenue NYC.
April 20, 2016
Co-President Cheryl L. Kates- Benman Esq. will don the runway at the Rochester Woman
Magazine event alongside her sponsored candidate for Mrs. NY America, Rosina Miller ( the
current Mrs. Monroe County America) (5 pm-9 pm), at the Rochester Plaza, 70 State Street
Film Productor Taunja Issac unexpectedly passed away in
January 2016. Cure NY Salutes her. Seen here with Cheryl and
film producer Deidre Sinnot
Co-Prez. Cheryl L. Kates- Benman with the CEO’s
of Dirt Road Records North & Sohuth
Voices Beyond the Wall Radio
May 7, 2016
Join Co-President Cheryl L Kates- Benman Esq. and Mrs. Monroe County America, Rosina
Miller as they join the efforts to raise awareness regarding mental health. NAMI is having a walk
and fundraiser. The pair are assembling a team of walkers. Please contact Cheryl or Rosina on
Facebook if you are interested in walking or donating to the National Alliance on Mental Illness’
fundraiser. See http://www.namiwalks.org. Meet at 274 N. Goodman Street, Rochester, NY (Village
Gate) at 8:30 am.
August 20, 2016
TEHRS.COM ANNUAL AWARDS SHOW– Join us August 20, 2016, (4 PM-10 PM) at the
York College Milton G. Bassin Performing Arts Center 94-20 Guy R. Brewer Blvd. Queens, NY
when Audrey Thomas Esq. will present our Co-President Cheryl L. Kates- Benman Esq. with the
2016 Humanitarian Award for her work last year with clients Mark Gizewski and Pascual
Carpenter. After starting a campaign for their release including the making of 2 documentary
films (Deirdre Sinnot, producer) both clients were released from prison on parole.
The CURE NY newsletter will be now sent in digital format. This is a complimentary copy. The April newsletter will
be available to members only. Please become a member today
Zip code _____________
Email address _____________________________
Memberships run from January 1, 2016 –December 31, 2016. Please mail your membership fee to
PO Box 1542
Fairport, NY. 14450
Individual membership 10.00
Incarcerated person 2.00– 10.00 sliding scale based on ability to pay
The New York Chapter of National CURE
Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants
PO Box 1542
Fairport, NY 14450
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