ALBANY, N.Y. (WETM) – The NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision announced that it will discharge 8,000 parolees from supervision by the end of this week, saying it’s a “good-faith measure” under the Less is More Act.
In the announcement, DOCCS said that the parolees would be released from supervision by March 31 in an effort to expedite releases from the Less Is More legislation. The announcement also explained that DOCCS had until September 2022 to apply the “30 for 30” credits to parolees, which says that released individuals can get 30 days taken off their supervision sentence for every 30 days “they are not in violation status.” However, DOCCS said this is an effort to “expedite this provision of the law”.
“In the spirit of the law, DOCCS staff immediately went to work implementing some provisions long before the law took effect,” said DOCCS Acting Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci. “Parole Officers will continue to play a vital role in keeping our communities safe, while leveraging a variety of resources to ensure successful outcomes for formerly incarcerated individuals.“
The announcement said that more than 5,400 parolees have been released so far, and an estimated 8,000 are expected to be released by March 31. DOCCS also claimed that as of March 25, 2022, there were 25,949 parolees under Community Supervision in NYS, as opposed to 31,019 on February 28, 2022.
The discharge was announced at the time when a record high amount of violent crime has already been reported across New York State. Local officials, including those here in the Twin Tiers, have shown skepticism from the action taken under the Less is More Act.
“The intentions are good,” said Elmira Police Chief Anthony Alvernaz. “But right now with crime at an all-time high, mostly violent crime, I’m not quite sure now is the right time to be giving those convicted of crimes some softer sides of the criminal justice system.”
Chief Alvernaz adds that he applauds the effort to keep parolees on the path to reform and help them get their lives back together, but at the same time, there is a negative connotation to it. He states that it would be better to further mitigate the current issues regarding the rise in violent crime as well as the debate over bail reform before making additional discharges.
The “Less is More” Act was signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul on September 17, 2021. The legislation aims to prevent people from being reincarcerated for technical, non-criminal parole violations, including missing curfews, arriving late to an appointment with a parole officer, changing residence without approval, and failing to attend a mandated program. The law will also allow for shorter parole sentences because of good behavior and expedite the time frame in which parole hearings can be held.
DOCCS told 18 News the Department would not be commenting on the announcement.