Jalil's Report follows the Decision:
DENIED – HOLD 24 MONTHS, NEXT APPEARANCE DATE: 06/2016
Conditions of Release/Staff Instructions/Reason for Denial:
COMMISSIONER HALLERDIN DISSENTS ON HOLD. PAROLE DENIED. After a personal interview, record review and deliberations, this panel finds that your release is incompatible with the public safety and welfare. You continue to serve a sentence for an in-concert crime where two police officers were shot and killed. You admit to firing a weapon during the crime. Other unlawful actions resulted in what you indicate led to probation as well as a period in California state prison. Your instant offense led to your only New York State prison term. Your receipt of a Tier III disciplinary violation during this term and your risk because of prison misconduct is scored as "high." Required statutatory factors have been considered, including the risk to the community, rehabilitation efforts, and your needs for successful community reintegration. Your document submissions, program accomplishments and letters from the defense attorneys and official sources were noted. You have good financial and employment expectations as also noted in these low risk scores. While you have accepted responsibility for what occurred, your more specific responsibility is deemed as positive. Your June 13, 2014 addendum was considered but fails to mention the August 1, 2006 parole board interview (page 5) and the September 18, 2012 parole interview (pages 19-21). When all factors are considered it is determined that release at this time would deprecate the seriousness of your instant offense, and undermine respect for the law. You need to improve your behavior to demonstrate the ability to comply with rules which will be necessary when in the community.
Commissioner Smith and Commissioner Harkey
Dear Friends & Supporters:
As here reported, this is the decision of the parole board denying my release. Obviously, the decision is convoluted and does not make any sense, an apparent disparate effort to conjure a reason to deny release. Gratefully, one of the parole commissioners, a woman of color, voted for my release, while the two elderly Euro-American males agreed to deny release. It should be noted that Commissioner Smith conducted the parole hearing on September 19, 2012 denying my release, as he also did on June 17, 2014. On August 31, 2010, the New York Daily News newspaper reported that Commissioner Smith was “conservative”, intimating his reluctance to grant parole to those convicted of homicide, especially of a police officer
The decision further informs that it was based on admission of guilt, and alludes to previous failure to admit guilt. However, what needs to be understood is the application of the law concerning the parole board’s consideration on the issue of guilt and innocence.
For example, in Silmon v. Travis, 718 N.Y.S.2d 704, at 708, the Court stated, “However, the Board is empowered to deny parole where it concludes that release is incompatible with the welfare of society. Thus, there is a strong rehabilitative component in the statute that may be given effect by remorse and insight.” The Court further held, “Additionally, once an individual has been convicted of a crime, it is generally not the Board’s role to reevaluate a claim of innocence, either by someone who maintains innocence in the face of a guilty verdict, or someone who allocutes to the facts [plea bargain] but later claims innocence."
Yet, in another case, Webb v. Travis, 810 N.Y.S.2d 233, the Court held “Inmate’s unwillingness to accept responsibility for violent crime is a sufficient basis for denying parole.” … “The Board may emphasize the inmate’s failure to take responsibility for the criminal offense.” Gamez v. Dennison, 795 N.Y.S.2d 397. These contradictory Court rulings generally permit the parole board to deny release to any prisoner who maintains innocence, although the question of guilt is a forgone conclusion by virtue of the conviction.
But as this decision makes plain, Commissioners Smith and Harkey had a predisposition to deny release. As another example, the decision refers to a February 2013 disciplinary violation. This Tier III disciplinary violation pertains to having (2) two stamps in my legal folder on my way to the law library. Two stamps! The Attica rule is stamps have to be pasted on an envelope to take to the law library, something I did not know, because the NYS Standardized Rule Book at rule #113.1 states: “An inmate shall not be in possession of stamps in excess of $20 in value, money, a credit card, credit card numbers, check or unauthorized valuable or property.” But the Attica Facility rule book #10.14 states: “Inmates are allowed a maximum of $22.00 worth of stamps in their possession (on person, in cell).” There is nothing in either rule book that informs stamps are contraband, or possessing stamps, specifically two (2) stamps of which I was charged with possessing, is a rule violation, At the disciplinary hearing, the hearing officer judged that, “… It appears to this Hearing Officer that inmate Bottom inadvertently carried the reported items en route to the law library.” Although finding me guilty of the charge, the Hearing Officer instructed all items confiscated from me be returned, including the two (2) stamps.
It must also be noted this disciplinary violation on my institutional record has been appealed and is currently pending in the NYS Court of Appeals. This is an action I would not have taken if I had not anticipated it would be used to deny my release on parole. Needless to say, there are many statutory violations in this adverse decision that will be administratively appealed. It is expected the administrative appeal will be filed within the next several months. Once filed, the DOCCS-Division of Parole has 120 days to decide the appeal. If they fail to do so with the period of time, a petition can be filed with the NYS Supreme Court requesting the Court to review the decision and reverse, ordering a new hearing to be conducted.
I would like to formally thank everyone who signed my parole petition, wrote letters to the parole board on my behalf, and participated in the rallies in NYC, Albany, Rochester and Buffalo submitting the parole petition and calling for my release on parole. Furthermore, I wish to thank those who offered me residence and employment in anticipation of my release. Obviously, winning release on parole is difficult when parole commissioners are predominantly comprised of former law enforcement personnel, particularly true in this case. The issue of punitive retribution opposing redemption and rehabilitation should depend on the demand of the community. Ultimately, the majority of prisoners will one day be released from prison, and it is the community that needs to know the returning person will be an asset and not a continuing liability to the community. In this regard, I firmly believe that it is the “Power of the People,” in their demand for equality and justice, that will determine who should be granted parole, as part of the struggle to end mass incarceration and political internment. Therefore, I especially encourage NYS activists to join in the struggle for the legislative passage of the Safe Parole Act as part of the overall struggle for parole reform.
Revolutionary love & unity
Jalil A. Muntaqim
June 27, 2014