Inmates, even with life sentences, could go free under state proposals

Updated: Jan. 30, 2020 at 5:12 PM EST
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ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - Some inmates could get out of state prison earlier even if they have a life sentence.

Being debated in the state Legislature are two bills.

One alters parole standards to make inmates eligible for release if they simply show signs of rehabilitation.

The other bill would give 55 year olds a chance to come before the parole board if they have served 15 years in prison, regardless of their crime or sentence.

State Senator Patty Ritchie says this is an example of priorities gone wrong.

"They seem to be advocating for the criminals. There's no respect for our law enforcement, for our corrections officers who put their life on the line each and every day. This whole bail reform and these two bills, they're upside down," said Ritchie (R. - 48th District).

Ritchie says that with bail reform already releasing more suspects, the last thing the state needs is another bill that would release criminals already serving sentences.

Meanwhile, an advocacy group called Release Aging People in Prison/RAPP Campaign sent 7 News the following statement from Jane Haugh, founder of Wake the North Country:

“Elected officials who represent the North Country need to let go of the idea that prisons are a jobs program for our communities. These are common sense criminal justice reforms that the entire state should support. We know we need to stop locking up so many people, especially older people. We should move forward with these reforms and begin a serious conversation about transitioning our upstate economy to more sustainable industries that promote the health and well-being of prison staff and don’t rely on incarcerating and punishing our neighbors in New York."

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