Important petition about NY State Prisoner

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Herman Bell has been imprisoned for over 40 years in NY State and the parole
board continues to hold him and look at his behavior and time in prison
instead of the original offense.

Sign at:…/

To Chairwoman, Board of Parole, New York State, Tina M. Stanford
Grant parole to New York State prisoner Herman Bell

We are asking that Herman Bell be granted release on parole at his February
2016 hearing

Herman Bell has been in state custody since 1973 and has been denied
release on parole 6 times since he first became eligible in 2004.

Every time Herman has been denied, it has been for the same reason-that
releasing him would undermine the law and deprecate the seriousness of the
crime. Herman has taken responsibility and expressed regret for the
shooting of the police officer and has served 4 decades in prison for this
offense. He is by all accounts, a much different person than he was in 1971
and further incarceration serves no purpose other than vengeance. We
believe Herman has done everything he can to make amends for his crime and
we ask that he be granted parole at his 7th parole hearing in 2016.

While incarcerated, Herman has been a model prisoner and a positive
influence on those around him. He has been a mentor and father-figure to
many young men in prison, helping them take advantage of every academic and
vocational program they can to prepare for release and reintegration into
society. In addition to earning a dual Bachelor of Science degree in
psychology and sociology, and a Masters degree in sociology, Herman has
coached football and basketball in order to have a positive influence on
the many young men he has met during his 4 decades in prison. With Herman’s
help, the Victory Gardens project was established in 1995 with two farmers
in Maine. The project brought together people from diverse lifestyles and
remote locations to plant, grow, tend, harvest, and then distribute the
food free to our communities. This life-giving project enjoyed eight
successful seasons distributing food in Maine, Boston, New Jersey,
Brooklyn, Harlem, and the Bronx.

Herman’s continued denials at the parole board are sadly, not a rarity but
the norm. The number of incarcerated people ages 50+ in New York has
increased 81% from 2000 to 2013, even as the total number of people locked
up has fallen by 23% during the same period. Today, 17% of incarcerated men
and 15% of incarcerated women in the New York prison system are over 50
years of age- roughly 9,000 people. Herman is 67 years old.

This is an unnecessary crisis. Many of these elders should be released. New
York routinely denies parole to elders behind bars, even though they pose
no risk to public safety and are fully prepared to successfully re-enter
and contribute to society. The recidivism rate of people who have served
long sentences for serious felonies is 1.3%—lower than any other category
of those released. Many, like Herman, have records of positive achievement
in prison and are praised by prison officials as peacemakers and role models.