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Reformers target state parole system

Chris Caya/WBFO news

Local activists rallied outside the state parole office in downtown Buffalo Wednesday,  calling on Albany to reform the parole process.About a dozen sign-carrying protesters rallied in support of the SAFE Parole Act. It would institute in-person videotaped interviews to ensure an accurate detailed record; allows applicants to address errors in their record; and calls for release decisions based on rehabilitation, not punishment. 

"When a person has shown that he's transformed himself and rehabilitated himself that should be looked at...when that individual comes before the Parole Board," said  Karima Amin, founder of Prisoners are People Too.

"Unfortunately the Parole Board goes way back 10 years, 20 years, even 40 years in some instances to look at...the crime that was committed so long ago, and not looking at the changes that have been made during that person's incarceration."    

The legislation, first introduced in 2011, is stalled in Albany and activists called on Senator Mark Grisanti to support the bill.

"If nothing else it saves money," Amin said.

"It's going to cost $60,000 a year to incarcerate someone. That's money wasted especially when an individual should not be incarcerated."  

Grisanti is traveling and was unavailable to comment the proposed parole reform legislation.