Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Republican NY State Sen. Jim Tedisco exploits Predator Panic on nonsensical OpEd
Reader's View: Parole Board Must Make Crime Victims a Priority
By State Sen. Jim Tedisco 17 hrs ago
Remember the late 1970s and 1980s when crime in New York State was out of control and some of the most dangerous offenders were often paroled long before their prison terms were up only to wreak havoc once more?
Unfortunately, if the Governor has his way, and if Upstate loses its Majority in the Senate as a check on the Executive and an Assembly, that’s two-to-one controlled by downstate interests, the bad old days may return.
In the past few months, the Governor, through executive orders without any legislative consultation, has pardoned or commuted the sentences of over 24,000 criminals including cop killers, child murderers and sex offenders. The Governor has gone so far as to issue conditional pardons and voting rights privileges to at least 77 sexual predators who are being civilly confined – the offenders who are most likely to re-offend.
This is done against the backdrop of a broken parole system here in New York that makes it difficult for crime victims and their families to have meaningful input on decisions about whether to free those convicted of violent crimes.
As a member of the New York State Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee, I recently participated in a legislative hearing on this issue. We heard some powerful testimony on the need for reforming the parole system and making it more responsive to crime victims and their families.
Among those testifying were Regina and Michael Stewart of Clifton Park, the parents of the late Christopher F. Stewart, who was tragically killed in 2012 by a drunk, drugged and dangerous driver.
Stewart was 17 years-old and co-captain of the Shenendehowa Football Team. Shen student Deanna Rivers also lost her life in the incident and students Matthew Hardy and Bailey Wind were seriously injured.
While the individual who killed Christopher Stewart and Deanna Rivers was recently denied parole, he will be up for another parole hearing in two years, causing further anguish for the families who will have to go through the process again.
Shockingly, when victims and families give their impact statements to the Parole Board, they only speak to one board member, with no guarantee that individual will be on the three-person panel that makes the decision as to whether to parole or not. This frustrating situation is faced by all crime victims and their families who want to make their voices heard to the Parole Board.
We can be compassionate for people who have made mistakes, done their time and are trying to turn their lives around, but first and foremost, we need justice and compassion for crime victims.
There should be no more get-out-of-jail-free cards for the worst-of-the-worst offenders like baby killer Mary Beth Tinning and cop killer Herman Bell, whose crimes are so heinous they should never see the light of day, let alone be paroled, pardoned and given the same level of rights and benefits as hard-working, honest, law-abiding citizens.
My Senate colleagues and I have already passed a holistic package of bi-partisan bills to protect our communities and be a voice for victims and their families. These include:
- Authorizing the imposition of life imprisonment without parole for persistent violent felony offenders (S.4036).
- Requiring a sentence of life imprisonment without parole for murder in the first degree involving killing of a first responder (S.7976).