The word “parole” wasn’t in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s prepared state of the state remarks, but tucked into her lengthy list of proposals for 2022 was an announcement that could make a difference for incarcerated New Yorkers hoping to get out of prison.
For years, the state Board of Parole has not been considering as many cases as it could hear, due to its number of members being consistently below the statutory limit. The board currently has 15 members, with Hochul pledging to fill the four outstanding vacancies.
“We are actively reviewing candidates to be nominated to fill the four additional seats on the Parole Board, increasing the board’s capacity to hear cases,” a Hochul spokesman said when asked about the timeline and status of her plans.
The governor also wants to prohibit board members from holding outside employment, which she contends will ensure their sole professional focus is on their parole responsibilities.
In response to the governor’s agenda, Release Aging People in Prison Campaign Director Jose Saldana said the two proposals represent “an initial step in the right direction.”
“Crucially, new commissioners must, themselves, commit to value human transformation and redemption if they are to carry out their responsibilities effectively and fairly. We call on Gov. Hochul to nominate to the Parole Board those who can fulfill this commitment,” Saldana said in a statement.
Progressive criminal justice advocates will also be pushing for the governor to act on stalled parole reforms, such as “Elder Parole,” which would increase the opportunities for older incarcerated New Yorkers to be released from prison.