September 30, 2020
From Assemblyman Palmesano:
Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) yesterday joined Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R,C,I,Ref-Pulaski), Assemblyman Joseph M. Giglio (R,C,I- Gowanda), members of the Assembly Minority Conference and families of crime victims to introduce legislation that will reform the state parole board process. Recently, the board has made a number of deeply questionable determinations by granting early release for violent individuals who have committed horrific crimes. The recent parole determinations coupled with the outrageous bail reform law passed by Gov. Cuomo and Senate and Assembly Democrats have created a public safety crisis.
Palmesano and Assembly Minority members have introduced a new bill to strengthen legislative oversight of the 19-member parole board, including:
● Allowing members of the state parole board to be removed by a majority vote of the Senate and Assembly, in addition to removal by the governor;
● Requiring a minimum of three (currently two) members of the 19-member parole board to interview inmates seeking parole; and
● Requiring a unanimous vote of the three members for each determination on parole. (Currently only a majority is required.)
“The governor’s parole board’s decisions to continue to prioritize violent criminals over crime victims, their families and public safety are deplorable,” said Palmesano. “We continue to see Assembly and Senate Democrats advocate for dangerous proposals to fill their political agendas with no regard for the lives at stake. Any parole board that decides violent offenders such as Samuel Ayala, Herman Bell and Anthony Bottom should be released is inherently flawed. New York has devolved into a safe haven for violent criminals and convicted felons, while our victims and their families are punished. Common sense must prevail in issues of this magnitude, and that starts with the parole board.”
The parole board recently granted the release of Samuel Ayala, who was paroled and released after being convicted of raping and murdering two Westchester mothers while their children were present. Herman Bell was convicted in 1971 of killing two police officers, and was let out of prison by the parole board two years ago. Convicted cop-killer Anthony Bottom, who was imprisoned for that same murder, was granted parole last week and is expected to go free in October.
Along with the new legislation, Palmesano and the Assembly Republican Conference are continuing their support for additional common-sense parole reform, Ramona’s Law (A.6663). The bill would extend the maximum number of months from 24 to 60 for the time between hearings for denied parole applicants in cases where an inmate was sentenced for dangerous violent felony offenses. They include murder in the first and second degrees, aggravated murder, predatory sexual assault and predatory sexual assault of a child.
“I urge Gov. Cuomo and my Democrat colleagues to join us in supporting these common-sense measures by prioritizing the protection of victims, their families and public safety over dangerous murderers and rapists. Not doing so is just another criminal act toward those who have already been brutally victimized,” said Palmesano.