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Vacant Seats on NYS Parole Board

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.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.