Calling it “another shocking piece of legislation to come out of Albany” Senator Pam Helming on Monday called on state Democratic lawmakers to rescind the proposed Elder Parole bill, which would see inmates 55 and older who have served 15 years of their prison sentences, be entitled a parole hearing, regardless of the sentence or crime.
Helming says if approved, jailed felons will not have to serve the minimum sentence imposed by the judge and life without parole would effectively be eliminated. Those denied parole would also be entitled to an automatic parole hearing every two years.
Helming said the bill is supported in the Senate by 33 Democrat sponsors and if brought to the Senate floor for a vote, would pass. There is a companion bill in the Assembly.
Senator Helming was joined Monday by victims’ families, including Lynn Mazurkiewicz, wife of Rochester Police Officer Anthony Mazurkiewicz, who was killed in the line of duty on July 21, 2022; Nikki Siplin, mother of 19-year-old Richard Collinge III who was murdered on July 20, 2022; and, Judy Tosh, mother of Kali Ann Poulton, who was abducted and murdered on May 23, 1994 at the age of 4.
“Elder parole is yet another shocking piece of legislation to come out of Albany that prioritizes criminals over victims and their families,” said Senator Helming. “The recent conviction of Anthony Mazurkiewicz’s killer has shed new light on the ramifications of this bill. To think that convicted murderers would be eligible for parole by virtue of their age and regardless of their sentence defies common sense and abolishes truth in sentencing. It re-victimizes families and further weakens our criminal justice system by throwing accountability out the door. What’s further shocking is there are no exceptions in this bill for even the most severe and heinous crimes.”
Lynn Mazurkiewicz said, “Most New Yorkers do not know that there is a bill, silently being brought before our elected officials, that would allow murderers, child predators, rapists, and other hardened criminals to be released from prison before their sentences are over. The judge and jury still must matter.”
Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt said, “Elder Parole is the latest in a long line of so-called reforms that prioritize criminals over victims, and ultimately, make our communities less safe. I want to thank Senator Helming for her leadership on this issue, as well as the members of law enforcement and the victims who are speaking out about the outrage of seeing dangerous perpetrators released back on the streets simply for turning a year older. The Senate Republican Conference will always stand with victims over criminals and will work to ensure dangerous and violent criminals are not given a get out of jail free card on their birthday.”
Retired Rochester Police Officer and Farmington resident Dennis Cole, Anthony Mazurkiewicz’s longtime partner and close friend added, “The greatest responsibility that elected officials have is to ensure the safety of people. How does releasing convicted murderers back into society due to their age do that? At what point do we begin to care about protecting law-abiding citizens and less about convicted criminals?”
Also in attendance on Monday were Ontario County District Attorney James Ritts, Ontario County Sheriff David Cirencione, Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley, Livingston County Undersheriff Matthew Bean, and area police chiefs.