ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Senator Pam Helming and Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt joined members of Monroe County law enforcement to make their voices heard on proposed legislation that, if passed, would allow some convicted prisoners to become eligible for consideration of release at the age of 55.
The proposed elder parole bill, gaining momentum in Albany, is currently in the New York State Senate Committee.
Loved ones of victims spoke out Monday, whose convicted killers are all serving jail time for murder. They say their biggest fear is seeing a day when those individuals could possibly walk the streets again.
Judy Tosh was among the speakers. Tosh lost her four-year-old daughter, Kali Ann Poulton, in 1994 when she was kidnapped from their townhome in Pittsford and murdered.
“He already gave me a life sentence to live my life without her. So therefore, as far as I’m concerned, he should never see the light of day again,” said Tosh, referring to her daughter’s killer, Mark Christie.
The proposed legislation would allow incarcerated individuals, who have served 15 years, to become eligible for a parole hearing to be considered for release at age 55, regardless of the sentence or crime.
“We made a promise to these victims via due process in our court system that a person would be sentenced over violation to our penal code. That’s a promise. A promise should not be broken or forgotten based on some obscure age. It’s unacceptable and we oppose it,” said Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter.
Sen. Helming leads the opposition to the bill. If a person is not eligible for release at age 55, they are entitled to another automatic hearing every 24 months, Sen. Helming says, at the taxpayers’ expense.
“Under the conditions of elder parole, these families may see a judge’s sentence basically tossed out the window. There will no longer be any truth to a sentencing. This is going to severely, severely hurt peoples’ trust in our government and in our judicial system,” said Sen. Helming.
The bill currently shares the support of a few dozen state lawmakers, including Senator Jeremy Cooney.
“We know there have unfortunately been a number of parolees, who have been involved in recommitting crimes. I don’t think every parolee recommits crimes, but we should take a look at the public safety component around this. This bill does not guarantee any one release. It just allows them to go to the parole board to have that evaluation done,” said Sen. Cooney.
Lynn Mazurkiewicz, wife of fallen Rochester Police Officer Anthony Mazurkiewicz, was joined by Nikki Siplin, mother of Richard Collinge III. Last month, Kelvin Vickers was found guilty of their murders in July 2022, and for the death of MyJel Rand.
Vickers is expected to be sentenced December 7.
“This person could allegedly be back out on the street by 55. My husband didn’t make it to 55. I resent that, quite a lot, actually. He was ambushed with no regard to his life or our families’ lives or any other lives he affected, the two young men he killed. We’re left to grieve. If this bill were actually to happen, I hate to see what will happen in the future,” said Mazurkiewicz.
The bill is also supported locally by Senator Samra Brouk. News 8 reached out to her office for comment and has not heard back.
The proposed legislation can be viewed here.