A state Senate hearing will look at what is causing the increase in releases for criminals.

Pamela Moss of Penfield would be 59 this year, but her life was cut short by James Moore. He murdered her in 1962.

Moore, 74, has been imprisoned for the crime for 45 years. He made a deal with the Monroe County District Attorney's office to serve a life sentence in exchange for not receiving the death penalty.

However, beginning in the early 1980s the laws began to change nationwide, and violent offenders who at one time did not have the possibility of being released are now eligible.

That includes Moore.

In 1982, Moore became eligible for release. He has gone up for parole every two years and has so far been denied each time.

He is staying put, but new evidence points to a rise in violent offenders — those convicted of murder, attempted murder, kidnapping or arson in the first degree —  being released at higher rates across New York state.

Parole boards through October of last year interviewed 1,087 so-called "violent felons" and granted release to 118, or 17 percent, according to the Associated Press. That compares to release rates in the 5 to 6 percent range for inmates during the last two complete fiscal years.

State Sen. Michael Nozzolio, R-Fayette, will hold a special hearing of the state Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections Committee on Jan. 15 to interview key officials about why more violent offenders are being released. These officials include the director of the Division of Criminal Justice Services, chairman of the New York State Parole Board and the commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services.
Nozzolio says the increase in release for violent offenders felons should not be tolerated.

"It has been widely reported that the Board of Parole is releasing a substantially higher number of violent felons from custody this year," said Nozzolio. "We took very serious strides to reduce the eligibility of parole and establish a zero tolerance for violent offenders."

The parole board is made up of 19 members. Members are appointed to six-year terms by the governor.

Each time Moore has faced the board he has been confronted by a local effort spearheaded by the District Attorney's office and a petition garnering around 100,000 signatures to keep him in prison, according to Monroe County District Attorney Mike Green.

Green says it is too early to determine whether there is an increased trend of violent offenders being released, but that in Moore’s case it is clear that he should not be released.

"The family relied on the fact that he would serve life in prison and did not seek the death penalty," said Green. "This is one case that he struck a deal to stay in prison for the rest of his life and now he is asking to be released."

Moore will face the Parole Board again in July 2008.

Nozzolio’s legislative hearing this month will determine if action is needed, such as new legislation to strengthen laws so offenders like Moore don’t slip through the cracks.

Webster Post