Advocates want inmates eligible for parole who are no longer a risk to society released

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Criminal justice advocates in Albany argue if you do the crime you should do the time.

Advocates also say if you’re eligible for parole, you should be released if you’re not a current risk to society, something that’s not happening in New York.

“The Parole Board in New York State believe this person supposed to have a second chance, else they wouldn’t have parole,” Tyrrell Muhammad

Muhammad says New York may offer parole, but it’s not being used effectively.

“How it’s utilized and then applied is from a discriminatory standpoint.”

Muhammad believes parole boards continue to judge an inmate on the crime they committed and not the person they’ve become over time.

“Each parole board I went to they saw me as the person from 1979.”

He served 27 years for second-degree murder.  While in prison, he completed a bachelor and master’s degree but says it took him three parole boards, before his release in 2005.

“So how’s the system broken if it worked for you, it didn’t work for me because I could’ve done that at my first parole.”

“We think it gives people who are in prison the opportunity to make the case to get out, which is what the parole system was originally designed for, as opposed to the way it functions now, which is simple as a re-sentencing body,” Victorio Reyes said.

Muhammad along with these advocates are asking lawmakers to pass a bill sponsored in the Assembly that would require an inmate be released for parole unless the board can present they’d be a current safety risk.

Under the proposal, if parole is denied, it’s assumed they’ll be released at their next hearing unless new evidence shows they’re still a risk.

“What we’re saying is that once a person is not a public safety threat anymore they should be released,” Muhammad said.

Muhammad says if the system isn’t changed, mass incarceration will only continue to grow.

“Otherwise we will be in this same situation next year and for years to come.”

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