From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was urged in a letter sent this week by the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus in the Legislature to fill seven vacancies on the state’s 19-member Parole Board.

“Such staffing levels leads to repeated postponements and shorter interviews, less time for individualized evaluations of parole applicants and their files, and other administrative challenges,” they wrote in the letter. “These conditions have devastating consequences for incarcerated New Yorkers, as many seeking parole are aging and infirm and cannot afford to wait any longer for their appearances.”

The lawmakers add that with the board understaffed, it’s led to two commissioners conducting interviews as opposed to panels composed of three commissioners, allowing for a majority vote.

“Understaffing results in commissioners who are overworked and unable to take time off or go on leave for fear of further burdening their colleagues,” the letter stated. “Earlier this year, two of the Board’s
commissioners went on unexpected medical leave, leaving only ten commissioners responsible for the work of a Board designed to carry nineteen.”

The letter comes as lawmakers and Cuomo are negotiating changes to the state’s criminal justice laws such as ending cash bail for misdemeanor charges, changing discovery laws for access to evidence and ensuring a speedy trial.

Cuomo has called for the measures to be included in a final budget agreement due on Sunday; lawmakers have signaled they want to pass the bills with an agreement outside of the state budget.

Letter – Parole Vacancies by Nick Reisman on Scribd