Plan to release sick and aging prisoners

February 07, 2018 06:49 PM

A proposed plan would release prisoners in New York State once they are 55-years-old.

The so-called geriatric parole was proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo this year.

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If a prisoner is at least 55, has a debilitating illness, and has served at least half of his or her sentence, he or she could be eligible for early parole under the plan.

Older, sick prisoners are the most expensive inmates in New York State. But at a budget hearing, one of the Rochester area's local state lawmakers asked the head of prison if the plan puts a price on safety.

The questions came from Senator Joe Robach (R - 56th District) to the acting commissioner of corrections. 

"I'd like to know what the definition is of debilitating age release," Robach asked. "What would constitute debilitating?"
"Well, our job is to look at someone with these conditions, whatever it may be, and it may be advanced arthritis, it may be a severely weakened heart where the person has difficulty moving from point A to point B," said Anthony J. Annucci, NYS Corrections Commissioner.
The plan takes the crime and good behavior into account. 

Older, sick inmates cost a lot of money. According to a 2017 report by the state comptroller, New York spends more than $380 million on inmate health care. An elderly sick inmate costs $100,000 a year. A healthy inmate costs $41,000. 

Even though the state prison population is down 11,000 under Governor Cuomo, the number of inmates 50 and older is up. 

Senator Robach reminded the commissioner about Kevin Quander, a 59-year-old parolee who murdered Charlotte Lahr two months after he got paroled. 

"I saw the tape," Robach said. "He was very capable of being very violent."
Earlier in the session, Annucci addressed parolee crime in Rochester.

"I'm very mindful of the very bad cases that happened in your area," he said. "And I deeply regret that they happened."

Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley prosecuted Kevin Quander for murder. 

Berkeley Brean: "Geriatric parole. What do you think?"
Sandra Doorley:  "I think we have a problem." 

For years the state has paroled inmates who have terminal illness. They go to a state facility for care. 

Geriatric parole is for inmates 55 and up with a debilitating, but not terminal, illness.


Berkeley Brean

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