June 1, 2015
ALBANY, NY – State Senator Tom O’Mara (R, Big Flats) and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R, Corning) spoke today, along with family members of murder victims, including the parents of Derrick Robie of Savona at a hearing at the state capital in Albany. Speakers at the hearing, called for the approval of legislation that would extend the time period that murderers and other violent felony offenders have to wait to apply for parole. Currently, the state Parole Board is required to allow inmates to request a parole hearing every two years.
Sponsors and supporters of the measure, including Dale and Doreen Robie, Derrick’s parents, argue that the longer time frame would help spare the families of victims from having to repeatedly, every two years, relive the events that took the lives of their loved ones — as well as to further help prevent any chance that a heinous criminal would be granted an unwarranted, early release from prison.
In a joint statement, O’Mara and Palmesano said, “Every time there’s another parole hearing for one of these violent criminals, throughout the days and weeks leading up to the hearing, the families of the victims have to relive the horror of the crimes that took the lives they cherished. No family should have to go through that nightmare every two years. There’s no sense of justice in putting these families through the anguish, pain and suffering of repeatedly having to make sure that the heinous, violent felon who took the life of their son or daughter, sister or brother, any loved one, won’t ever see the outside of a prison cell again. That’s just not fair.”
(O’Mara begins at 00:01, Palmesano begins at 1:34, video is 3 min)
Robie was four years old in August 1993 when he was killed by Eric Smith, then 13, in a wooded area near Robie’s home in Savona. Smith was convicted of second-degree murder in 1994 and sentenced to nine years to life in prison. He’s currently incarcerated at the maximum-security Collins Correctional Facility outside Buffalo.
Smith first became eligible for parole in 2002 and has been denied parole seven times, the last hearing coming in April 2014. Under current law, he’s eligible for another parole hearing next April.
The legislation to extend the parole hearing time frame is currently in the Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee in both the Senate and Assembly. It must be approved by both houses of the Legislature and signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo before becoming law.