There are several parole-reform bills on the legislature’s radar on this penultimate day of session.
One of them is called “Fair and Timely Parole,” and it is sponsored by Senator Gustavo Rivera and Assemblyman David Weprin.
The bill changes the criteria that parole board members must use to decide cases.
Marvin Mayfield, lead statewide organizer with the Center for Community Alternatives, explained that while an incarcerated person’s offense can never be changed, a person can change going forward if they work hard enough.
“This bill would mandate the parole board to take into serious consideration what a person has done while they were serving their time,” Mayfield said. “Up until this time, there’s been a rubber-stamp denial saying that parole is denied at this time because it’s not consistent with…public safety.”
In other words, if this bill passes, parole board members must take into consideration what the person has accomplished while incarcerated.
“Eighty percent of the people who are in prisons right now and applying for parole are Black and brown people from our communities,” Mayfield told Capital Tonight. “This has been a heavy burden on just a small segment of the population to account for what the parole board’s decisions have been, so this legislation would guarantee an opportunity – just an opportunity – for Black and brown people to state their cases.”