A judge in New York has suspended the release of Herman Bell, a 70-year-old prisoner who has been granted parole after 45 years in prison. Bell was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for the killing of two New York City police officers in 1971. At the time, he was a member of the Black Liberation Army and a former Black Panther. Since then, he has mentored thousands of young men while behind bars and kept a clean disciplinary record. State-mandated tests show he would pose the lowest possible risk if he is allowed to re-enter society. In March, the New York Parole Board granted parole for Bell, noting he had expressed remorse and was likely to lead a “law-abiding life.” State law requires commissioners to consider such factors, but they’ve only recently started to comply. On Wednesday, a state judge agreed to hear a challenge from the widow of one of the officers, who says the board violated procedure. A hearing on the petition is set for April 13, just days before Bell’s earliest originally scheduled release date. DN! speaks with Robert Boyle, lawyer for Herman Bell, who says the board followed the rules. DN! also speaks with Jose Saldaña, who was incarcerated in New York until he was released by the parole board earlier this year in January, after 38 years inside. He knew Herman Bell and is now an organizer with the group RAPP, Release Aging People from Prison, who has helped push for parole reform.
Human Rights and Equality
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