During the past few years, I have assisted a number of women who sought parole after spending decades in New York prisons for committing crimes resulting from their having been victims of horrific domestic violence—and I’ve been appalled by our dysfunctional parole process. Recently, I attended a parole hearing for a client in Louisiana and saw firsthand that New York can learn from what some here would consider to be a “backwater” state. Fundamental changes to the process by which New York parole applications are decided are desperately needed, and protestations that they cannot be made are wrong.

For incarcerated people who finally have the opportunity to seek parole after being locked up for decades, the determinations made by the Governor-appointed Parole Board are a matter of life and virtual death. To increase the chances of gaining her freedom, an incarcerated person applying for parole has the opportunity to provide the Parole Board with a packet of materials demonstrating that she is worthy of being released.

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