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Elder parole changes gain traction in New York

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  • Staff Report 

A legislative push to reform New York’s parole system has gained momentum, with the Assembly Correction Committee advancing a bill Wednesday that could grant parole eligibility to prison inmates aged 55 and older, provided they have served at least 15 years of their sentence.

The Elder Parole bill would apply even to those serving life sentences, marking a potential shift in how the state handles long-term incarceration. As the aging prison population grows, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is urging lawmakers to consider policy revisions to alleviate the increased costs of caring for inmates over 50. The #MeToo movement’s founder also voiced support for the parole reforms, while Republican lawmakers warn of potential public safety risks.

The Assembly Committee also moved forward with the Fair & Timely parole bill, which stipulates that inmates must be released after serving their minimum sentence unless there’s evidence that they pose a threat to public safety.

While these bills mandate parole hearings, they do not guarantee release. Advocates argue that such reforms are vital for inmate rehabilitation and societal healing. In addition, the Assembly Democrats advanced a bill Wednesday to establish a parole system for terminally ill or disabled prisoners, and to standardize visitation systems in state prisons. Simultaneously, Republican-backed public safety measures, including increased penalties for youth gun crimes and repeated shoplifting, remain stalled in the committee.