Poloncarz opposed to proposed parole reform legislation

I recently added my voice in support of Erie County District Attorney John Flynn as we both spoke publicly in opposition to parole reform legislation currently being considered by the New York State Legislature. Based on my analysis of what is being proposed, I believe the passage of those bills could return violent offenders to our community.

If it were to be approved, the Elder Parole Act would allow any incarcerated individual age 55 or older who has served 15 or more consecutive years in prison to be automatically considered for parole regardless of the type of crime committed or length of sentence imposed.

In addition, the Fair and Timely Parole Act would require the New York State Parole Board to grant parole to any incarcerated person “unless the parole case record demonstrates there is a current and unreasonable risk the person will violate the law if released and such risk cannot be mitigated by parole supervision.” Under this scenario, the Parole Board would first consider the offender’s institutional record, length of sentence, and other criteria before considering the seriousness of the crime and its impact on the victim.

I agree with District Attorney Flynn and urge our state lawmakers who represent Western New York to carefully consider the full ramifications of this legislation. The safety and security of residents, as well as the lifelong impacts these crimes have had on victims and their families, must be our first consideration and guide in this discussion.

While parole reform for lower-level offenses such as drug violations or other non-violent infractions could be beneficial, these proposed reforms would release violent offenders into the general public based largely on just their time in incarceration and their behavior while there.

I believe this is not enough justification for release and completely overlooks the lasting effects their crimes had on their victims and, in some cases, the trauma these persons caused their communities during their criminal activities. For these reasons I joined District Attorney Flynn in opposition to these proposed reforms and look forward to seeing how things play out in Albany as the current legislative session comes to a close.