November 5, 2019: State Bar Association Task Force on the Parole System Releases Initial Report

NYSBA Task Force Report Identifies Problems with the State’s Current Parole System, Proposes Solutions

The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) has adopted the initial report and recommendations by the task force studying the state’s current system of parole. The report, which proposes several reforms, was approved at the State Bar’s Nov. 2 House of Delegates meeting in Albany.

“NYSBA’s Task Force on the Parole System has developed actionable solutions to the woefully high reincarceration rate of parolees in New York state, which we urge the legislature to consider when it reconvenes in January,” said NYSBA President Hank Greenberg. “This includes eliminating mandatory detention for alleged technical violations of parole, establishing a system of ‘earned good time credits’ and increasing the number of parole commissioners. 

“While the state legislature should be commended for its wide-ranging criminal justice reforms, it is now time to tackle this important issue.”

The initial report’s three recommendations include:

  • Eliminating mandatory pre-adjudication detention of a parolee for a non-criminal alleged technical parole violation, such as missing a meeting; 
  • Establishing a system of “earned good time credits” to incentivize good behavior while on parole, which would reduce a parolee’s time under supervision; and
  • Increasing the number of parole commissioners from 19 to 30, to alleviate the current case-to-commissioner ratio of 526 to 1.

Task force co-chairs past NYSBA President Seymour W. James, Jr. (Barket Epstein Kearon Aldea & LoTurco) and William T. Russell, Jr. (Simpson Thacher & Bartlett) presented the report. Members of the task force represent the broad range of stakeholders in the criminal justice system, including judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Parole is a period of conditional release to supervision in the community following a period of incarceration in state or federal prison. Parolees include individuals serving indeterminate sentences who are discretionarily released from prison to community supervision and those serving determinate sentences who are required to serve a specific period of supervised release in the community after serving a designated term of imprisonment.

Revocation of parole for alleged technical violations results in reincarceration for thousands of people. According to the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, in 2016, of the 21,675 people sent to New York state prison, 29% were jailed for technical violations of their parole. 

The Task Force on the Parole System will continue its review and analysis of the parole system and anticipates submitting additional reports and recommendations for reform.

Click here to view the full report.

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About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, NYSBA has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.

Contact: Christian Nolan 
[email protected]
518-487-5536

2019