Prison system's early release program under fire - should victims be informed of convict enrollment?
The New York State prison system is coming under fire for not informing victims or prosecutors when it places a convict into an early release program.
Greg and Andrea McCartney told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon that they were upset when they accessed the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision's website and learned that Kimberlei Senke had been enrolled into a shock incarceration program. The military style boot camp program allows for convicts to be paroled after 6 months, drastically cutting down on their overall sentence length.
Senke was sentenced on July 26, 2012, to serve 2 to 6 years in prison after pleading guilty to embezzling more than $260,000 from the McCartney's business, Artistry in Wood, located in East Syracuse. The McCartney's say they were deceived by Senke and as a result of the embezzlement, had to lay off several employees. Not only are they upset that Senke could get out of prison early, they feel that prison system should be obligated to inform victims and prosecutors before placing inmates into early release programs.
"It's kind of a slap in the face that they can do this sort of thing and not notify the victim," Andrea McCartney said. Her husband, Greg asked, "How many other cases out there are happening maybe... people are getting out and nobody knows?"
In a statement, the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said ,"DOCCS is not obligated to notify victims or the district attorney of a decision to place an inmate into shock incarceration. Instead program availability and eligibility should already be known to the judges and district attorneys during the plea/sentencing phase of the criminal justice system."
Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick says that policy has to change. He called it "an administrative usurptation of a judge's power."
Fitzpatrick added, "So when I say to somebody, look this guy stole $100,000 or $400,000. He's getting a 4 year, 5 year sentence and they see the guy sipping coffee at a Dunkin Donuts 6 months later, we look like fools and frankly justifiably so. "
Fitzpatrick was appointed to the state's Permanent Sentencing Commission. He says it is taking up the issue of early release programs and whether the prison system should be obligated to inform victims and other authorities.
As it turned out, Senke completed the shock incarceration program but her parole board decided against her early release anyway. She is now being housed at the Albion Correctional Facility along with the general prison population.