History of the New York State Board of Parole
The former Division of Parole was established in the Executive Department on July 1, 1930. At that time, a full-time Board of Parole comprised of three members was created and paroling functions for all the State prisons were transferred from the Department of Corrections to the Division of Parole. The training schools, correctional institutions for mentally disabled prisoners, and the women's reformatory maintained separate parole systems until 1945 when parole was consolidated throughout the state.
In 1967, the New York State legislature passed legislation establishing authority for the Board of Parole to grant conditional release of parole to persons under definite sentences and to persons incarcerated in local reformatories. This legislation also provided for the transfer of duties and functions of the New York City Parole Commission to the New York State Division of Parole.
On January 1, 1971, the Division of Parole was consolidated with the Department of Corrections to form the Department of Correctional Services (DOCS). This merger was based on the premise that a coordinated effort of institutional and community supervision of convicted offenders would be more effective in reducing recidivism.
Parole remained part of DOCS until January 1, 1978, when the Division was once again placed in the Executive Department as a separate agency through the Parole Reform Act of 1977. In addition to reestablishing the Division as a separate agency, the 1977 legislation mandated the formal adoption of Parole Guidelines designed to structure the Parole Board's decisions concerning the minimum period of imprisonment and the granting or denying of parole release.
In 1978, as a result of the Juvenile Offender Law, the Division of Parole also became responsible for the release decision for juveniles convicted of certain serious felonies and for their post-release community supervision.
On April 1, 2011, the Department of Correctional Services and the New York State Division of Parole were again merged to form the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS).
Community Supervision within DOCCS
The Department's Community Supervision staff members are responsible for supervising incarcerated individuals released from prison by action of the Parole Board, conditional release, or release to a period of post-release supervision, as well as those individuals sentenced directly to community supervision.
Facility assigned Offender Rehabilitation Coordinators (ORCs) are responsible for:
- parole and post-release supervision orientation
- identification of needs and targeted services
- the pre-release application process under the Interstate Compact
- completion of the pre-Board interview
- development of the supervision plan
- community preparation
- case assignment
ORCs complete pre-Parole Board interviews and community preparation interviews for all incarcerated individuals appearing before the Board of Parole (indeterminate sentences) and for all incarcerated individuals released by operation of law (determinate sentences).
ORCs assigned to DOCCS facilities complete a core report known as the Parole Board Report in preparation for all discretionary release appearances and case reviews. The Parole Board Report is a comprehensive case management report and evaluation of case-specific data that is utilized by the Board of Parole in the discretionary release decision-making process, and by Field and Re-Entry Services staff during the community preparation investigation phase. ORCs also provide assistance to incarcerated individuals in completing the COMPAS Risk and Needs Assessment instrument.
ORCS guide and counsel incarcerated individuals during incarceration to prepare them for eventual release to the community. The duties of an ORC include:
- helping incarcerated individuals develop positive attitudes and behavior;
- motivating their participation in appropriate programs;
- preparing incarcerated individuals for their Parole Board interviews; and
- preparing incarcerated individuals for eventual release to the community.
The Parole Officer (PO) assigned to a Bureau Field Office is responsible for the supervision of the parolee in the community setting.
POs employed by DOCCS are peace officers who are trained and certified by the Municipal Police Training Council under the auspices of the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services.
Community Supervision day-to-day operations are supported by DOCCS Administrative Services, Support Operations, and Research units.
Counsel's Office provides legal assistance on Department (DOCCS) policy and authors and interprets legislation. Administrative Law Judges administer due process hearings for alleged parole violators.
The Executive Clemency Bureau processes and investigates applications for pardons and commutations of sentence, as well as applications for Certificates of Relief from Disabilities and Certificates of Good Conduct.
The Office of Victim Assistance works with local district attorneys and crime victims to help ensure that victims are aware of their rights regarding the parole process and are afforded an opportunity to be heard in connection with the possible release of an incarcerated individual.
The Department maintains contact with crime victims and, at their request, keeps them apprised of Board of Parole interview dates, decisions, and release dates. The Office of Victim Assistance also coordinates Victim Impact Statement meetings between victims and/or their survivors and the Board of Parole.
Board of Parole
The Board of Parole is a quasi-judicial body possessing the powers and duties specified in Section 259-c of the New York State Executive Law.
The Board consists of up to 19 members appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the New York State Senate. The term of office for each member of the Board is normally six years. However, members chosen to fill vacancies other than by expiration of term are appointed for the remainder of the unexpired term of the members they are to succeed.
Board of Parole Duties
The duties of the Board of Parole include:
- Determining which incarcerated individuals serving indeterminate sentences of imprisonment may be released to supervision, the date of release, and establishing conditions of post-release supervision;
- Mandating the conditions of release of any person who may be presumptively released or conditionally released under an indeterminate or determinate sentence of imprisonment;
- Establishing written procedures for use in making parole decisions;
- Revoking the parole, presumptive release, post-release supervision or conditional release of any parolee and authorizing the issuance of a warrant for the retaking of such person; and
- Reporting to the Governor, when requested, the facts, circumstances, histories, social, physical, psychiatric, and criminal records of offenders under consideration by the Governor for Executive Clemency.
In addition, the Board of Parole can grant medical parole to eligible incarcerated individuals according to Chapter 56 of the Laws of 2009, Part J, amended Section 259-r and enacted Section 259-s of the Executive Law.
Parole Officer Duties
Parole Officers (PO) have dual responsibilities. As peace officers, they protect the community and are responsible for monitoring parolee compliance with the conditions of community supervision. As caseworkers, they must also respond to each parolee's need for services, treatment, and assistance to increase the likelihood that the parolee will succeed in the community.
The PO's role is key to facilitating the successful completion of the sentence or period of community supervision. POs work in the community and coordinate the delivery of services, help to motivate and guide parolees under supervision through evidence-based practices, accepted casework techniques, and also report on parolee progress.
If a parolee demonstrates behavior that indicates an unwillingness to comply with the conditions of community supervision, the PO will intervene to promote the parolee's success and may initiate actions that may ultimately result in a revocation of release and return to prison.
No person under 21 years of age who does not possess a baccalaureate degree conferred by a post-secondary institution accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the United States office of education, or who is not fit physically, mentally and morally shall be eligible for the position of PO.
The PO selection shall be based on definite qualifications as to character, ability, and training with an emphasis on capacity and ability to provide a balanced approach to influencing human behavior and to use judgment in the enforcement of the rules and regulations of community supervision.
Parole Officers shall be persons likely to exercise a strong and helpful influence upon persons placed under their supervision while retaining the goal of protecting society. (Correction Law [§10(1)(2)]).
Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator Duties
The ORC helps incarcerated individuals develop positive attitudes and behavior, arrange for their participation in programs for self-improvement, and prepare incarcerated individuals for release to the community.
The ORC is responsible for compiling all relevant case specific information, completing risk and needs assessments, and guiding the development of supervision plans for incarcerated individuals who are granted parole or released to a period of post-release supervision by operation of law.
The ORC assists incarcerated individuals throughout the period of incarceration and provides support and guidance during the Parole Board appearance and community preparation processes.
The ORC is primarily responsible for the preparation of the Parole Board Report.