Rochester, N.Y. (WROC) — A bill in Albany that would guarantee older inmates an appearance before a parole board is being met with support and opposition from different corners of the community.

The bill, which remains just a proposal at this point, would make sure a prisoner 55 years old or older who has served at least 15 years of their sentence has a chance to appeal for parole at least every two years – a move that would push up parole consideration for many inmates.

If granted parole, that inmate would be released under community supervision.

Joe Robach, a Republican and former state senator, argues this will lead to the release of people well before they’re no longer a threat to society.

“If this was just someone dying of cancer being able to be released and go home that’s one thing, but that’s not what these bills do, they let out violent people,” Robach said.

But interim Monroe County Public Defender Jill Paperno says studies show older parolees are much less likely to commit another crime.

“Many have participated in programs, they’ve participated in educational programs and it’s time for them to have another opportunity in the world,” Paperno said.

Parperno adds that the bill, which is co-sponsored by many Democrats in the Rochester area delegation, does not mandate the early release of older inmates, just regular hearings before a parole board.

Robach counters saying it will increase the likelihood of more releases at a time when many places are seeing an increase of crime, which he blames on criminal justice changes already in place like bail reform.

“Why would you want to let more violent people out of jail for any reason, unless you can assure the public they wouldn’t hurt more people?” Robach asked.

Paperno says many who might be released early don’t have the track record that would suggest a violent offense once out.

“We see people who are in prison for persistent felony offenses or persistent violent felony offenses where just by the nature of the charge and a determination where they had these other convictions perhaps when they are younger, they now have lifetime sentences,” Paperno said.

Paperno also makes a financial argument saying health care costs grow dramatically as patients age, but Robach says the focus should be on victims and their desire to see inmates serve out their sentence.