NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A6354A
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the executive law, in relation to
parole eligibility for certain inmates aged fifty-five or older
To create a process to evaluate older prisoners to determine whether
they pose a significant public safety risk.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1 adds a new subdivision 18 to section 259-c of the executive
law. Section 2 provides an effective date.
The number of older inmates in our prison system is rising every year
even as the total inmate population is falling. The population of state
prisoners over the age of 50 has increased by 81 percent since 2000. On
January 1, 2007, there were 63,304 inmates in the prison system, with an
average age of 36.5. On that date there were 1,572 inmates in the system
over 60 years of age. Ten years later, on January 1, 2016, there were
52,344 inmates in state correctional facilities, 2,389 of whom were over
the age of 60, and the average age had risen to 38.2. The number of
inmates over 60 rose from 2.5 percent of the prison population in 2007
to 4.6 percent in 2016. Longer minimum sentences since the 1980's and
lower parole release rates since the 1990's ensure that our prison popu-
lation will continue to age over the coming years, forcing the prison
system to open more geriatric nursing care units and expand the existing
resources for inmates suffering from dementia, diabetes, heart disease
and other physical and cognitive disabilities relating to old age.
Crimes are largely committed by young people. Older inmates who have
served long sentences present the lowest risk of recidivism of any other
class of inmates.
This bill permits the Board of Parole to evaluate all inmates over the
age of 55 who have served at least 15 years in prison for possible
parole release. It does not mandate release, but allows the Board to
make a public safety assessment to see whether an elderly inmate is safe
to be released to parole supervision even if he or she has not completed
his or her minimum sentence and to have the discretion to grant such
This bill will save the state money if it results in an increase in the
release rate of older prisoners who might otherwise need expensive
medical care and specialized housing within the prison system.
LOCAL FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:
One hundred and eighty days after the act becomes law.