5 of 19 seats on the New York State Parole Board are unfilled - but the Governor's office insists the panel is functioning normally.
Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports
Governor Andrew Cuomo could hand-pick appointees to serve on the board if he replaced two commissioners now serving in expired terms — one selected by Former Gov. George Pataki pick, the other from the David Paterson administration — Cuomo could also fill five vacant seats. Instead, Cuomo decided to save the state money by keeping the board at 14.
A spokesman for the Governor declined to go on tape, explaining "it's a budgetary issue." The spokesman said the parole board operates efficiently and describes the appointment process as "ongoing."
Soffiyah Elijah is the Executive Director of the Correctional Association of New York: she concedes that cost-saving measures prevail in these uncertain economic times. Elijah pegs the average cost to incarcerate an individual around 56-thousand dollars a year.
The Governor's spokesperson re-iterated that parole board appointments are "a practial matter of budgetary concern" and that Cuomo feels the number of commissioners is adequate.