June 30, 2017
New York law allows for both determinate and indeterminate sentencing, though indeterminate sentencing is more common. New York's original indeterminate sentencing laws were passed in 1876. The New York Division of Parole ("Division") and a Board of Parole ("Board") were established in 1930; up to that point, prison officials decided when release would be granted. In 1971, the Division merged with the Department of Corrections to form the Department of Correctional Services. In the wake of the Attica Prison riot and demands from the courts and others for protection of the procedural rights of releasees, the Division was re-established in 1977 as an autonomous agency within the Executive Department. In 2011, the Department of Correctional Services and the Division of Parole combined to form the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision ("DOCCS" or "the Department") for the stated goal of creating "a more seamless, more comprehensive operation through a continuum of care from the moment an offender enters the correctional system until he or she successfully completes the required period of community supervision." However, the Parole Board continues to be an independent decision-making body.
New York also has a Permanent Commission on Sentencing, established in 2010 for the purpose of "clarifying and simplifying New York State's sentencing regime." New York's Commission is unusual, because it was established by a chief judge rather than by the state legislature. The Commission proposed a transition to fully determinate sentencing in December 2014, but as of this writing, such a change has not occurred.