NY governor’s “parole reform” releases murder suspect – now accused of murdering woman while on parole


ALBANY, NY – The recent enacting of a parole reform law in New York – not to be confused with bail reform but presenting similar risks – led to a man accused of murder being released from custody following a parole violation.

Luckily, the suspect was rearrested, but the matter led to serious questions that eventually prompted a response from Governor Kathy Hochul.

Earlier in September, Governor Hochul signed what was coined as the “Less is More Act”, which restricts incarceration being used as a means to address what are known as technical parole violations.

Technical parole violations are non-criminal instances where a violator would’ve previously been brought back into custody to either complete all or a portion of the remaining prison sentence.

These violations typically live in the realm of breaking curfews, absconding, failed tests for either drugs or alcohol and the sort.

Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley explained that in order for a parolee to be re-incarcerated over technical violations in the state, the offender would have to engage in said acts several times:

“Say, for example, a person on parole commits a non-technical violation.

Once they’re released, they do not check in with their parole officer, they don’t follow a curfew, they don’t make themselves amenable to a search of their premises.

Those are non-technical violations, most of those will have no jail exposure until perhaps the person has that violation a third or fourth time.”

But as a result of this rollout, many individuals who had previously been reintroduced into custody under technical violations were going to be getting a ticket out of prison.

One of the beneficiaries of this rollout was 21-year-old Joseph Rivera, who was arrested on July 21st for alleged parole violations. However, while Rivera was in custody for the parole violations, he became a prime suspect for a July 10th murder of a 47-year-old woman identified as Heather Majors.

Majors had reportedly suffered over 30 stab wounds from an early morning hatchet attack, where she succumbed to her sustained wounds days later while at Strong Memorial Hospital.

Monroe County prosecutors were reportedly intending to file murder charges against Rivera before his December release date from custody – but then the “Less is More Act” went into effect, and with no formal charges levied against Rivera, he was released from custody on September 21st.

This of course led to a quick discussion between police and prosecutors, citing the need to tend to the Rivera situation quickly. Luckily, roughly 10 hours after his release on September 21st, he was re-arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

Gates Police Chief James VanBrederode, who is also the president of the Monroe County Police Chiefs Association, expressed frustration that police were not given the names of any of the inmates who were going to be released as a result of the “Less is More Act”:

“I can tell you that not one person standing here had any knowledge or notice that this was coming until after the fact that had already happened. It is inconceivable, the lack of communication and the lack of partnership that we have had from Albany.”

Governor Hochul pushed back on that assertion by Chief VanBrederode, saying that while perhaps communication between police and corrections could always be improved, corrections properly notified all relevant parties of upcoming releases:

“Yes, they need to have close coordination with corrections. Our corrections team made sure people knew what was going to be happening. But yes, the police did the right thing in this case.”

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New York governor orders immediate parole and release of nearly 200 Rikers inmates because of staffing shortage

(Originally published September 20th, 2021)

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NEW YORK, NY- Who knew New York could go from bad to just as bad after the resignation of touchy-feely Andrew Cuomo last month? From all appearances, the state’s new governor may be just as useless as her predecessor.

One of her first actions as governor will be to release 191 detainees from Rikers Island, which has been severely understaffed for months, with some units completely lacking guards, according to rt.com.

Under her “Less is More Act,” individuals who are subject to “technical parole violations” who would normally be locked back up would no longer be incarcerated. Gov. Kathy Hochul says that this is one of the primary contributors to Rikers being overcrowded.

“Parole in this state often becomes a ticket back into jail because of technical violations,” she said.

She explained this could be as simple as “someone caught with a drink or using a substance or missing an appointment.”

While the law doesn’t go into effect until next March, Hochul ordered the parole board to immediately release the 191 individuals on Friday, while moving some 200 Rikers inmates to state prisons over the next week or so hoping it will relieve some of the overcrowding.

Despite those measures, Rikers will remain understaffed at a critical level.

Reports indicate that around 2,700 employees which comprises one-third of the entire staff are unable to work on any given day. The result of this has been that some units are actually being run by the inmates themselves, which not surprisingly has led to an explosion of violence.

When guards do work, they are subject to work long hours, usually double or even triple shifts Since December, the jail has seen 10 inmate suicides, and as mentioned above some units are being run by the criminal inhabitants.

Employees have described the facility as “filthy,” with bodily fluids covering the walls and floors. Correction Department Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi was taken aback by conditions at the jail, stating during a city council hearing last week that the situation was “worse than I imagined.”

Coronavirus is also playing a part in conditions inside the jail, with a reported 65 cases being identified last week. Because of overcrowding in the jail, it is impossible to isolate or quarantine suspected cases, Board of Correction member Dr. Robert Cohen told city council members during the hearing.

Hochul has made a commitment to reduce overcrowding in New York jails and prisons and said that other inmates met “that threshold” of having technically violated parole without committing a separate offense.

The New York Post reported that Hochul called the situation at Rikers “deeply disturbing,” which led her to act ahead of the March 1 implementation of the new law. Hochul claimed the inmates she is ordering released “have served their sentences” for the crimes they committed and “do not need to be incarcerated.”

She said that some 65 percent of the parolees returned back to prison had only committed “a very technical violation” and noted that several Southern states “are ahead of us on this.’

“New York incarcerates more people for parole violations than anywhere in the country,” Hochul said. “That is a point of shame, and it needs to be fixed.”

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In case you missed it, below is a previous article we wrote about Rikers Island. 


NEW YORK CITY, NY – Last year, Mayor Bill De Blasio released scores of prisoners from Rikers Island while blaming the pandemic. This month, he plans to release dozens more of the “worst kind of criminals” because of a shortage of guards.

The second batch of early-release prisoners was supposed to begin on Thursday but has been delayed because of the widespread destruction brought on by Hurricane Ida, according to unnamed law enforcement sources who spoke with the New York Post.

One source said de Blasio would use any excuse to release prisoners from Riker’s Island, the infamous jail de Blasio vowed to close by 2026:

“(Mayor Bill de Blasio])wants to close Rikers and he will use any opportunity to release the prisoners. He is leaving in three-plus months, and he wants to release as many prisoners as he can.”

The new batch of prisoners to be released follows the release of more than 1,500 last year reportedly due to the coronavirus outbreak. The first release lowered the number of prisoners housed in Riker’s to 4,363, the lowest level in 70  years.

The population did not remain low, however, and grew to 5,730 by July, according to Department of Criminal Justice Services data.  Increases in shootings and serious assaults was cited as a contributing factor for the rise.

Mayor de Blasio wants to release more into the city. The law enforcement source said he was concerned:

“There are only the worst kind criminals left in jail – people with gun arrests, shootings, sex crimes. No one is in for shoplifting.”

Corrections officers at the jail have been sounding the alarm for months about staff shortages. The guards have claimed poor working conditions have caused corrections officers to leave, making the situation worse.

Correction Captains’ Association president Pat Ferraiuolo said described the situation as dire:

“It’s worse than at the breaking point. They are the worst they have ever been in the history of Rikers Island.”

The Department of Corrections admitted staff shortages are causing unsafe conditions at the jail, but claimed the shortage was caused by sick guards and unavailable staff.

Around 3,500 out of 8,500 officers had called in sick in July or were medically exempt from working with detainees, the DOC said. Another 2,300, meanwhile, reportedly did not come in at some point in July.

Mayor de Blasio blamed the staff shortages on the pandemic and “absenteeism at an unacceptable level.”

The New York Daily Post reported that two Riker’s units, known as 3 West and 3 North, in the Otis Bantum Correctional Center at Riker’s ran without corrections officers for more than 24 hours last week because of staff shortages.

Terrance Ferguson, better known as hip-hop artist 2 Milly, is serving time at Riker’s for a gun charge. He said that the prisoners were running the jail unit he was in because of staff shortages:

“We are really running the dorm by ourselves. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

De Blasio’s plan to release a second wave of prisoners comes as shootings and other serious assaults have surged in the city.

Reportedly, at least 180 prisoners are being considered for release, although the administration said not all of them will qualify.

Prisoners under consideration for release include Rashaen Powell, 30, who is serving a sentence for three counts of dealing drugs on school grounds. He also jumped bail.

Another prisoner being considered for release is Allen Nimmons, 56, who is a career burglar who has served seven sentences for burglary and is presently incarcerated for parole violations.

Corrections officers feel they are hitting a brick wall and circulated a text message this past weekend calling for a “bang-in,” a term used when the organization wants all corrections officers to call off sick at once to protest working conditions and staffing shortages.

Corrections officers said they are being used by the city and are forced to work “daily triple/quadruple tours,” “unmanned posts” and “no meal breaks.” The text message read:

“We have been taken advantage of for too long. Let’s take our lives back.”

As is typically the case with emergency and vital service “sick outs,” the plan fell apart when correctional officers showed up for work. One guard who was leaving said that if correctional officers called off, he would have just had to stay to work.

The 10-year veteran officer pointed out that the staffing shortage is creating a dangerous situation:

“If you look at the history of prison riots — if you look at Attica — it stems from the same thing: shortage of staff.”

Despite all the warnings, de Blasio still blames the shortages on staff and the pandemic. He plans to continue with the prisoner release as a way to solve the staff crisis and denies the increase in prison population was caused by the rise in crime, blaming the courts for the lack of trials being conducted.

The Mayor also said Wednesday that corrections officers are taking advantage of the pandemic:

“Absenteeism at an unacceptable level.

“And in many cases, unfortunately, it has not been real and justified absenteeism.”

Benny Boscio Jr., The Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association President, issued a statement Monday attacking the Mayor’s plan to release more prisoners:

“In yet the latest sign that Mayor de Blasio has completely lost his grip on reality, rather than hiring the necessary number of Correction Officers to maintain safety and security in our jails and keep New York City safe, he’s decided to release drug dealers, armed robbers, and other hardened criminals with no concern for public safety.

“Would someone please remind the Mayor that 70% of our inmates are recidivists and will most likely return to our custody by Christmas? New Yorkers should demand that the Mayor release these criminals on the steps of Gracie Mansion instead of their doorsteps!”

He went on to say that the city’s corrections officers knew de Blasio did not care about their safety:

“Correction Officers always knew he didn’t care if his policies resulted in one of us getting killed. Now it’s obvious that he doesn’t care if your family members get killed. This will do nothing to solve our staffing crisis and it will only jeopardize the lives of every single New Yorker!”


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