Amazingly, a prisoner at the Mid Orange Correctional Facility in Warwick  represented himself (known as pro se) and successfully argued that the New York State Board of Parole failed to properly consider his rehabilitation before denying his parole.

The case, titled Matter of Thwaites v. New York State Board of Parole, could have far reaching effects. In his decision, Judge Lawence H. Ecker was particularly scornful of the Board's approach, "The court finds the Board's decision denying parole in this case to be arbitrary and capricious, irrational, and improper based upon the Parole Board's failure to articulate any rational, nonconclusory basis, other than its reliance on the seriousness of the crime."

The decision to deny the parole contained the standard language that the parolee was being denied as "discretionary release is inappropriate at this time and incompatible with the welfare of the community. To hold otherwise would so deprecate the seriousness of your crime as to undermine respect for law." This language is boilerplate in almost all parole denials.

Several months the denial of  Mr. Thwaites' parole, Executive Law §259(c) was revised and required the Parole Board to "incorporate risk and needs principles to measure the rehabilitation of persons appearing before the board [and] the likelihood of success of such persons upon release."

Congrats to Mr. Thwaites, whose case will now be reviewed again, and to Judge Ecker whose courage to properly apply the law resulted in a good decision and reflects favorably on the judiciary and the justice system of the State of New York.