Justice Dennis Bender


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Inmate Branch challenged Division of Parole’s determination denying his request for parole, and imposing an additional 24 month hold in this Article 78 proceeding. He asserted the Parole Board’s decision was perfunctory and failed to consider the needs and risks under a COMPAS review, arguing it failed to set forth reasons for their denial, merely focusing on the severity of the underlying crime. The court disagreed noting the board reviewed the COMPAS re-entry risk assessment, advising Branch he was a low overall risk for future violence, but there was community and official opposition to his release. It stated the instant offense for which Branch was incarcerated occurred while he was on parole a mere two weeks for attempted murder and robbery, and he was undeterred by prior court intervention. Thus, the court found, contrary to Branch’s claim, the board considered other relevant statutory factors, aside from the seriousness of the crime involved—assault—including his positive institutional record and failing health. Yet, it noted in light of Branch’s long history of violence, the board was not arbitrary in being concerned about his continued potential for violence, stating its emphasis on the seriousness of the crime was permissible. The petition was denied and dismissed.