Release Aging People in Prison

RAPP ( promotes the release of people in New York State prisons who are age 50 and older, have served considerable time, and pose no threat to public safety. We urge the governor and other policy-makers to use existing mechanisms—parole, compassionate release, and clemency— to release these elders, and to pass the S.A.F.E. Parole Act to increase parole release rates for everyone.

Come to our monthly meeting in NYC: WEDNESDAY, September 6th, 2017 • 6:00-8:15 pm (with pizza and soda) • Columbia School of Social Work, 1255 Amsterdam Avenue (121/122nd Street), 8th Floor, New York, NY 10027

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Learn how to fight NY State’s unjust parole system with RAPP

Dec 22, 2014 | by admin

Wednesday, January 28, 2015: How advocates & attorneys can fight for parole justice in NY state—a continuing legal education program

The National Lawyers Guild – New York City Chapter’s Mass Incarceration and Anti-Racism Committees present PAROLE PREP BASICS: New York State’s unjust parole system and what advocates and attorneys can do about it.

January 28, 2015, 6:00-8:30 pm, NYU School of Law, Room 214, Vanderbilt Hall, 40 Washington Square South, Manhattan • Snacks served at 6:00, program starts promptly at 6:30.

Presenters: Mujahid Farid of Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP) • Scott Paltrowitz, Esq. of the National Lawyers Guild • Claudia Trupp, Esq. of The Center for Appellate Litigation • members of the Coordinating Committee for the Parole Preparation Project, Andrea Bible, J.D., Nora Carroll, Esq., Michelle Lewin, Mark Taylor, Esq.

[CLE Information: 2.0 CLE credits available in the areas of Professional Practice and Skills. Transitional or non-transitional credit available.]
FREE with suggested donation $15 for attorneys seeking CLE credit; $5 for all others.

RSVP required here


6:00 – 6:30pm:             Guests arrive, socialize, eat, sign-in.

6:30 – 6:50:             1. Challenges of parole advocacy in New York State – Andrea Bible, JD; Mark Taylor, Esq.

– Overview of Parole Preparation Project

– Why are we doing this? What’s the big deal?

– Legal community largely ignoring people in prison

– Humanizing people in prison

– Description of political advocacy around parole reform

– Overview of statutory scheme NY Exec. Law § 259-I (2)(c) and 9 NYCRR 8002.1 et seq. – odds stacked

– Sample of Article 78 denial “irrational bordering on impropriety”- odds stacked!

6:50 – 7:30:            2. The Many Dilemmas of the NYS Parole Board – Mujahid Farid; Scott Paltrowitz, Esq.

– What the Board actually considers versus statutory scheme

– 2011 amendments to Exec. Law & subsequent litigation

– Limitations of the appeals process

– Ill effect of all these parole denials for eligible people

– Restrictions on access to courts for people in prison (PLRA)

7:30 – 8:00: 3. Parole Preparation Basics – what we do – Michelle Lewin; Nora Carroll, Esq.

– Commitment to the applicant

– Meaning of collaboration/accountability – nature of relationship between volunteers and parole applicants

– Volunteer time commitment versus time commitment for attorney who already knows the person seeking parole

– Overview of the process: questionnaire, speak to applicant, collect documents, visit, prepare parole packet and mail it

– Supervision for PPP volunteers

– Confidentiality and ethical concerns


8:00 – 8:25:  4. The Parole Packet – what goes in and how to get what you need  – Claudia Trupp, Esq.; Nora Carroll, Esq.

What Goes In

– Conviction information: PSR, plea/sentencing minutes, appellate decisions if any, rap sheet

– Institutional information: disciplinary history (misbehavior reports, summary of history, appeals), programs (mandatory and voluntary), Jobs held, certificates earned, quarterly performance assessments, faith community participation, leadership?

– Medical/Psych information: any medical conditions? OMH level/records, if any, treatment compliance.

– Education records: before and after incarceration

– Social history of the person

– Post-release plan – family support, employment, letters of reasonable assurance, letters of support, letters from judge or defense attorney?

How to Get What You Need

– Releases: most documents can be obtained as long as applicant releases them to you

– Getting documents from NYS DOCCS, OMH, sentencing courts and the statutory authority

– FOIL process and statutory scheme

– Applicant should have most of these documents, you’ll just be filling in the gaps.

– This is why communication is so essential: A bit about calls and visits

8:25 – 8:30: 5. Final Steps: Where to send the packet and beyond – Andrea Bible, J.D.

– The actual (video-conferenced) interview

– Where to send/how much lead time to give

– How to find out what happened

– Appeals

8:30 – until… Concluding remarks and Q & A


(organized by order of presentation in timed agenda)

1. Challenges of Parole Advocacy

Selected Statutes (N.Y. Executive Law § 259-c (4), N.Y. Executive Law § 259-i (2)(c), 9 NYCRR 8002.1, 9 NYCRR 8002.3) (hard copy + available on dropbox)

A Typical Denial in an Article 78 Proceeding: Valentino v. Evans, 92 A.D.3d 1054 (3d Dep’t 2012). (available on dropbox)

Hughes, Bill, “Even Model NYS Inmates Face Steep Barriers to Parole,” City Limits (Sept. 2014) (available on dropbox)

Lenefsky, David, “Fixing the Law and Practice of Parole,” NYLJ 12/8/14 (available on dropbox)

2. Dilemmas – Summary of Problematic Parole Board Practices (CA talking points on language for comments to parole regs) (hard copy + available on dropbox)

Testimony of Scott Paltrowitz before NYS Assembly Corrections Committee re Board of Parole, December 4, 2013. (available on dropbox)

New York State Department of Corrections & Community Supervision (DOCCS) Directive No. 4040 (Inmate Grievance Program)

Summary of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (available on dropbox)

Farid v. Goord, 200 F.Supp.2d 220 (W.D.N.Y. 2002) (available on dropbox) (not included in application materials)

3. Parole Prep Basics

PPP Questionnaire (hard copy +  available on dropbox)

4. The Parole Packet

Center for Appellate Litigation – Parole Release Advocacy Handbook ((hard copy +  available on dropbox)

Sample Inmate Status Review (available on dropbox)

Sample PSR (available on dropbox)

Sample Parole Denial (available on dropbox)

Sample Advocacy Letters (available on dropbox)

(samples not included in application materials)


in alphabetical order

Andrea Bible, J.D.

Andrea Bible, JD, MSW, first began working with people charged with crimes in 1996.  For eight years, she served as a legal advocate at the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women, a defense-based resource center that assists domestic violence survivors charged with or convicted of crimes related to their experiences of abuse.  She also spent six years in California working with women serving Indeterminate term‐to-life sentences (“lifers”), where she coordinated media and public education campaigns to generate community support for lifers’ release on parole; engaged in legislative advocacy around decarceration; trained attorneys to represent lifers at parole suitability hearings; trained Parole Board Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners on domestic violence; regularly visited people serving indeterminate sentences; and provided ongoing support to lifers released from prison.  As a law student intern at the Office of the Appellate Defender in NYC, Andrea supported a person serving an indeterminate life sentence prepare for her fourth NYS Parole Board appearance who was granted release by the Board.  Andrea is a 2014 graduate of CUNY School of Law.  She works at the Legal Aid Society in the Criminal Appeals Bureau and is a member of the NLG-NYC Mass Incarceration Committee Parole Preparation Project’s Coordinating Committee. NYS Admission pending.

Nora Carroll, Esq.

Nora Carroll is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law (’09) and a staff attorney with The Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Practice in Brooklyn. Nora has been an NLG member since 2005. She is a founding member of the Mass Incarceration Committee of NLG and a Coordinating Committee member for the Parole Preparation Project. Admitted to practice in NYS.

Mujahid Farid

Mujahid Farid is the Lead Organizer for the Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP) Campaign. After spending 33 years in New York State prisons, Mr. Farid was released in 2011. While confined, Farid earned four (4) college diplomas including two graduate degrees:  a Master’s Degree in Sociology from SUNY New Paltz; and a Master’s Degree in Ministry from New York Theological Seminary.  During his time confined Farid was a “jailhouse lawyer” and avid litigator, with many cases effecting changes in conditions of confinement chronicled in state and federal reports.  In 1987 Farid was part of a trio that created and proposed the first HIV/AIDS peer education program in New York State prisons (PEPA), which later developed into the widely acclaimed state-wide program called PACE (Prisoners AIDS Counseling & Education). He also participated in the creation of a college certificate program sponsored by New York Theological Seminary, and he taught introduction to sociology courses for persons confined

training for Alcohol & Substance Abuse Training (ASAT) counseling certification. Since his release in 2011 Farid has initiated two programs designed to have a substantial impact on providing relief for those confined in New York State prisons, as well as those being released: The (Release Aging People in Prison) RAPP Campaign and the Rise & Shine Small Business Coalition. Farid also received a SOROS Justice Fellowship for organizing and leading the RAPP Campaign, along with a joint NYS legislative commendation for doing so.

Michelle Lewin

Michelle Lewin is a 2L at the CUNY School of Law. Born and raised in Atlanta, Michelle has been active in prison abolition and racial justice work since 2005. She is actively involved in her radical Brooklyn women’s group and organizes workshops on facilitation, group process and alternative decision-making. She believes strongly in movements that prioritize self-determination, grassroots leadership and collaboration. Michelle joined the NLG in the fall of 2013, and has been one of the Coordinating Committee members of the Parole Preparation Project of the Mass Incarceration Committee ever since.

Scott Paltrowitz, Esq.

Scott Paltrowitz is an Associate Director of the Prison Visiting Project of the Correctional Association of New York (CA) and a member of the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC). Through investigative research, report writing, coalition-building, organizing, and advocacy Scott works with the CA toward a more humane and effective system of addressing needs and behaviors currently labeled criminal, as well as a more racially and economically just and equitable society. At the CA, Scott focuses on such issues as solitary confinement, violence and abuse, medical and mental health care, and educational and vocational opportunities for people incarcerated. Scott is also a member of the Release of Aging People in Prison (RAPP) campaign, as well as the National Lawyers Guild Mass Incarceration Committee and Muslim Defense Project. Admitted to practice in NYS.

Mark Taylor, Esq.

Claudia Trupp, Esq.

For the past 17 years Claudia Trupp has worked at the Center for Appellate Litigation (CAL), a non-profit law firm in New York City which represents indigent defendants in post-conviction proceedings.   Now a supervising attorney, Ms. Trupp is the founder and director of the Center’s Justice First Project, a program designed to detect wrongful convictions at the earliest stages of the appellate process and actively reinvestigate those cases.   Since its inception in 2002, the project has achieved impressive results, exonerating several clients and earning new trials for many more.  Ms. Trupp also supervises CAL’s parole advocacy project as well as the office’s client reentry program.  She regularly speaks on criminal law matters and has taught appellate advocacy.  She is the recipient of an Outstanding Public Service Award from the New York County Lawyer’s Association and the Reginald Heber Smith Award from NLADA.   Her memoir, Hard Time and Nursery Rhymes, which recounts her efforts to balance raising three daughters with the demands of being a public defender, was published in 2009. Admitted to practice in NYS.