A bill before the New York State Senate proposes inmates be able to apply for “elder parole,” the request to get out of state prison at the age of 55.
“Elder parole” would be offered to all state sentences, even those serving life without parole.
That means Central New York’s most notorious murderers could request parole, including Jeff Cahill, Billy Blake, and Hubert “Mad Dog” Allen.
The law, if passed, would also apply to William Wood Jr., the man sentenced to life in prison for killing two Chili’s workers in an armed robbery.
Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick, who prosecuted dozens of those cases, calls the proposal “insane.”
Proponents say prisoners older than 55 are the most unlikely to commit another crime. It’s also more expansive for taxpayers to pay for healthcare for aging inmates.
The law wouldn’t guarantee a prisoner’s release from prison. It would give previously ineligible prisoners to option to go before the Parole Board, which would then decide.
The bill has passed committee, which means it moves into the full Senate. A similar version is moving through the Assembly.
Republican State Senator Bob Antonacci, who opposes the bill, tells NewsChannel 9:
“Just yesterday in Onondaga County, a ruthless killer was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. But wait, if my liberal Senate Democrat colleagues have their way, proposed bill S2144 would allow William Wood, the Chili’s killer, to be eligible for parole at age 55. I am opposed to this bill. Passage of this bill will not make us safer. The current Senate Democrat Majority continues to show they care more about criminals than they do the victims and their families. Subjecting victims and sadly in most cases, the surviving family members, to these parole hearings will cause further pain and suffering, hearings that under current law would not be required. How about Jill Cahill’s killer? Is there anyone that thinks he should be walking the streets simply because he is 55 years of age?”
Democrat State Senator Rachel May didn’t give an explicit position on the bill but says she wouldn’t want prisoners who continue to risk public safety out of prison and reiterates that it would be up to the Parole Board.
“The murders at Chili’s DeWitt last year shattered lives and continues to haunt our community. My thoughts have always been with the family, friends, and coworkers of those who were lost that night. This was a heinous crime and I hope that the court’s correct ruling provides some sense of justice for everyone affected by this tragedy.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office did not respond.