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Kaye Scholer Attorney Wins New Parole Hearing and Subsequent Release for Exemplary Inmate

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

  • Organization: The Legal Aid Society

Jack South, 58, has served 19 years in jail, ten years beyond the minimum sentence. Each of the six times he has appeared before parole board hearings he has been denied release on a boilerplate formulation: "All factors considered, your release at this time is incompatible with the public welfare as the panel has concluded there exists a reasonable probability that you would not live and remain at liberty without again violating the law." The board's denial, based solely on his criminal history, ignored an exemplary record of rehabilitation.

While incarcerated, Mr. South worked towards bachelor's and master's degrees followed by a doctorate in theology, overcame a heroin addiction, and has counseled other prisoners. Due to the absence of a disciplinary history while in prison, Mr. South secured release plans, including acceptance in a residential Veteran Administration program. He has obtained a certificate of earned eligibility, a presumption of being granted parole at his next hearing. Yet despite these accomplishments, Mr. South remains incarcerated in a maximum security prison.

Jacqueline Arana, an associate with Kaye Scholer LLP, filed an Article 78 petition against the parole board, challenging the arbitrariness of the most recent denial of parole. In April, Judge Emily Jane Goodman agreed, finding that Mr. South's latest parole hearing was unfair and writing that the parole hearing "suggests that the decision was a foregone conclusion before it even took place." She continued: "One is left with the impression that the state's position is that, because of this man's past crimes, there would, in essence, never be a time that he would be suitable for release." The court ordered a new parole hearing "forthwith;" and on June 11, Mr. South was victorious at this hearing. He will be released from prison shortly.

From left, Steve Wasserman, Legal Aid Criminal Defense staff attorney; Jacqueline Arana, Kaye Scholer associate; and Jonathan Chasan, Supervising Attorney, Prisoners' Rights Project

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