Parole Officers Say New Rules Make the Streets Less Safe
(New York- WABC, August 25, 2005) _ (WABC) -- Some state parole officers who supervise violent convicted felons are speaking out about safety on the streets. They say new policies are preventing them from protecting you. The Investigators' Sarah Wallace has our exclusive report.
It's almost unheard of for parole officers to speak out publicly because of retaliation, but a growing number are just fed up. One reason: Several high-profile crimes in recent months. The suspects-- convicted felons on parole.
Officers responsible for monitoring parolees say that trend is no fluke. The state parole policies are increasingly putting people at risk.
Manny Clemente, NYS Parole Officer: "You got serial killers, murderers, pedophiles out there who are not being properly supervised."
Parole Officer Manny Clemente finds it too painful to watch the news these days, a seemingly constant parade of parolees linked to headline grabbing crimes as with the accused murderer of an actress in Soho and a three-time convicted drug dealer arrested in the apartment where two teens overdosed on heroin. Another example: A wild chase through Manhattan involving a stolen car. The suspect recently released from prison.
Parole officers assigned to monitor convicted felons say rather than supervising, they're being saddled by new rules ordering them to finish their day back in the office -- stopping short their checks in the field. The division says it's for safety reasons.
Michael Murphy, NYS Parole Officer: "If I have to spend my time before and after going to the office.. how much field work can I get done?"
And officers claim there are now multiple forms to be filled out, due in the next day. The division says it's for accountability.
Clemente: "Instead of doing field work, you're actually sitting there pushing paperwork in the office.. . redundant paperwork."
Murphy: "This agency should be about supervision and community protection. As it stands now, it's more about statistics and bean counting."
Speaking of counting, we obtained internal documents showing that while a parole officer may have an actual caseload of, say, 92 felons the agency calculates the caseload as 48.6 because certain certain offenders are only calculated as a quarter or half of a body.
And then there's the issue of parolees who get re-arrested on new warrants because they've violated rules such as failing drug tests or committed new crimes.
Clemente: "They're picking up people, but half of those people we just locked up a couple of weeks ago and they're out again."
This high-level parole employee showed us several recent cases where parolees have been re-arrested and revoked, meaning back out on the street again multiple times within a couple of years.
Parole Employee: "You see more and more parolees being released. Violent felony offenders are being released after 60 days, 90 days . "I've heard of situations where parolees were released the same day they were apprehended."
But there are plenty of cases, too, that are not big enough for media attention. One parolee, Francisco Torres, was re-arrested just last week for assault. He's been in and out of prison for years with repeat parole violations in between. Officers say they are fed up with what they're seeing.
Clemente: "Let us do our jobs, that's all we want to do. Get off our backs, and let us do what we're supposed to do which is protect the community."
The parolees we mentioned specifically are all awaiting trial on pending charges. No one from the state division of parole would go on camera. A statement suggests there are labor issues, and says the division remains entirely focused on the mission of protecting the community and ensuring that parolees make a successful transition into the community.
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