High time to reform N.Y.’s parole system
As the daughter of a loving, caring man who’s currently incarcerated, I agree our parole system is in need of reform. My father will be eligible for parole release in five years based on his court-imposed sentence, but he may serve many more. Having totally transformed himself, he’s more than ready to contribute to our community. Sadly, under current law, the Parole Board may deny him release based on the one thing he can never change — his original conviction.
Together, the Fair and Timely Parole and Elder Parole bills would ensure that people in prison have an opportunity for parole consideration based on who they are today, what they have done to change, and whether they present a danger to community safety, in addition to their past behavior. These are moderate reforms backed by the families of incarcerated people and advocates for victims and survivors.
Your Feb. 21 editorial (“Make sure parole reform is done correctly”) calls for input from law enforcement, too. Having spent decades lobbying for policies that created mass incarceration, often silencing crime victims while purporting to speak for them, their advocacy should be taken with a grain of salt. These bills are supported by the Law Enforcement Action Partnership and at least one district attorney.
On top of the moral and financial problem of mass incarceration, there’s a crisis of aging and dying in New York’s prisons, especially now during COVID-19. Lawmakers must pass these reforms to reunite families like mine before it’s too late.
Divided GOP would be best outcome
Trump was acquitted again by Republicans who stand for nothing but their own self-interest. What I hope will happen next is that Trump divides the center-right and far right of the GOP (there is no middle in the GOP). This will effectively destroy the party for years to come, which is fine with me. It was so evident in the impeachment and Senate trials that most Republicans (86 percent voted to acquit) care more about getting re-elected than following their oath of office and the Constitution. One hundred percent of Democrats showed they are the true patriots in this country while the flag-waving Trump Republican seditionists almost pulled off a massacre in the Capitol on Jan. 6.
In addition to not getting re-elected, Republicans fear getting death threats from these insurrectionists. These domestic terrorists need to be dealt with by Homeland Security, DOJ and the FBI. If we need a domestic terrorist law, then let’s do that. It would be interesting to see how many “brave” Republicans would vote for such a law given their ties and support for the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters and, of course, white supremacist factions.
The other big issue in 2021 and beyond is the renewal of voter-suppression efforts by the states’ GOP. Over 100 bills have been introduced in state legislatures to make it more difficult for less advantaged citizens to vote, despite the fairest and most secure election that just occurred. But with a split GOP, hopefully it won’t matter.
Dems must back impartial redistricting
I was distressed while reading the article (“As redistricting looms, Dems have second thoughts”) on the front page of the Feb. 16 Gazette to learn that New York Democrats were considering abandoning their call for a nonpartisan redistricting commission. This is extremely misguided.
The Democrats, of which I am one, have spent the last four years bemoaning the actions of the Republican Party while they have held most of the power in the country. We were outraged that Mitch McConnell pushed through the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett after blocking the consideration of Merrick Garland four years earlier. We blasted gerrymandering when the Republicans did it; we railed against voter suppression in states controlled by Republicans; we were horrified when 43 Senators voted to exonerate Trump from his part in an armed insurrection against the government of the United States. For four years, the Democrats appeared to hold the moral high ground.
I think the Democratic Party needs to defend this high ground by supporting fair, impartial redistricting. Someone needs to stand for good government based on democratic principles. Many people in this country, mostly quiet ones, long for this. Let New York be the “shining city on the hill” for government based on fairness, not based on power.
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