FREE A PRISONER BY MAKING AN INFORMED CHOICE
This petition had 271 supporters
Jim Moore is New York State's longest serving inmate. He was convicted in 1963 and originally given a sentence of 40 years to life for the 1962 rape and murder of a young girl. He had committed the crime during one of a series of episodes of “mania” for which he had been under psychiatric treatment for. Moore was convicted in 1963 and originally given a sentence of 40 years to life and was to remain under psychiatric care.
Shortly after James Moore came into prison, his episodes stopped. At about that same time Dr. Rachel Carson's book: “Silent Spring” was published. (Dr. Carson was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her discoveries relative to the horrific side-effects of chemicals!) In her book she identified “dieldrin used by landscapers as the cause of episodes of mania.”
Since James Moore had been a landscaper for several years prior to the time his 'episodes' began to occur, he had been exposed to dieldrin, as well as other pesticides and insecticides that had 'mind-altering effects'. No evidence of this was presented when Jim was sentenced since he 'forfeited a jury trial' because of the immense remorse he felt for having committed the crime. And, although there existed mitigating circumstances at the time of the crime, he has always believed that, “if you do the crime ... you do the time!” ... and he has done more time than others who have done even more horrendous crimes ... including the killing of police officers !
Jim has served more than 50 years in NY State prisons, and he is currently 'the longest serving inmate in the New York State prison system'. He was 28 years of age when he was convicted. He is now 83 years old, and must rely on a wheelchair because of medical issues that include a recent “lethal dose of morphine” which he (miraculously) survived from! (He and his attorney believe it was an intentional act since he was not any morphine at the time!)
Jim was sentenced under 1932 era sentencing laws under which his sentence would be “40 years to life with 'good time earned' added.” However, a 1974 change in the sentencing law was supposed to have an ameliorative effect, in that a release would be considered after 20 years and eight (8) months ... in situations such as Jim’s. And, as a result of the change in the law in 1974, hundreds of inmates with good inside records who'd already served twenty years and 8 months, were released. The new law had an 'ameliorative effect'! (The new law reduced from 40 years to life to 20 years to life ... without credit for any good time.)
However, when Jim reached 20 years in 1983, he was not released despite his 'exemplary inside record'. (The 1974 sentencing law eliminated getting credit for good time.) Jim feels strongly that he should be considered for release under the laws that were in place at the time he was sentenced. Under either scheme he should have been considered for conditional release by now.
Although New York State continues to ignore the 'ameliorative effect' of a law, under (federal) U.S.C.A., Article I, Section 9, cl 3 it states that “prisoners must be considered for parole under parole board guidelines in use at time they committed the first crime for which they are imprisoned.”
Since 1982, Jim has gone in front of the parole board 18 (eighteen) times and the parole board has been unwilling to consider him for release based on 'the horrific nature of the crime' he committed in 1962, and based also on their mistaken belief that he “still poses a danger to society” and that he has “made no efforts to rehabilitate himself.” Neither could be farther from the truth.
Jim was under psychiatric care for 'episodes of mania' prior to and at the time he committed his crime. He was told by his psychiatrist – Dr. Liebertson – that his mental state was 'genetic' and “there was no hope of a recovery!” Dr. Lievertson made statements to this effect on the witness stand at Jim's insanity and sentencing hearing and Jim believed what Dr. Liebertson said. (In fact, when told of what he'd done, he was immediately remorseful and quite distraught. He attempted suicide while in the county jail using barbiturates given to him by Dr. Liebertson in response to Jim’s distress. But his physician-suicide attempt failed!)
Through the passage of a law by the NY State Legislature that was designed specifically for Jim’s case, he was allowed to 'forfeit his right to a trial by jury' and undergo a hearing before Judge Lomenzo to deal only with questions of insanity and sentencing. Jim agreed to this because of his feelings of remorse. (His wife Joyce says that had the death penalty not temporarily been rescinded in 1963, Jim would have been the last person who would have been executed in the electric chair. )
As soon as he entered Attica prison, he was placed under psychiatric care … “to be studied.” He agreed to this because Dr. Liebertson had said that his condition was incurable, and hoped that studying his case might help others. However, shortly after coming into prison he no longer experienced the episodes of mania he had experienced before 1963. He didn’t learn till later the reason why these episodes ceased (see next paragraph). Jim was present during the Attica riot in 1971 and has written in great detail about what he observed. Some of what he observed had never been made public ... until recently in Heather Ann Thompson's book: “Blood in the Water” which exposes much of what has been kept hidden from the public that needs to be told!
Some time after he entered Attica Prison, Jim was given a copy of Rachel Carson’s book, “Silent Spring” by a mental health professional. In the book, Carson wrote about her research which revealed that “landscapers were subject to 'episodes of mania' because of their handling pesticides and insecticides in their work; however “these episodes end when these workers are no longer exposed to the harmful chemicals in these products.” Jim was also greatly relieved by what he read because he now knew his children would not be affected as he was.
Dr. Liebertson had been wrong, his illness was not genetic! Jim still continued with psychotherapy sessions for years in prison, however, over the past four (4) decades the 'opinions' of over 40 mental health professionals who have evaluated him have been 'favorable,' and they indicate that Jim “is no longer a danger” to society.
Jim has held some of the most responsible jobs while working inside the NY State prison system, including being the head clerk to the Industrial Superintendent at Auburn Prison for twenty (20) years who gave the only letter he ever wrote on behalf of an inmate. It is supposed to be in his parole file, but as he later learned, it has been omitted by DOCS officials.
While at Auburn prison between 1975 and 1992, he and nineteen (19) others completed their Associates Degree from Cayuga Community College; their Bachelor's Degree from SUNY's Empire State College and their Master's in American Studies from Buffalo University> James Moore went on to completing his PhD in Business Management from California Coast University by mail. He completed his dissertation work with the approval of the NY State Department of Corrections and his findings subsequently benefited DOCS.
Jim paid for his college expenses by selling his art work. He won several first prize awards for his paintings, and has had several one-person shows on the outside. Over fifty (50) of his pieces were donated over the years to well-recognized organizations in their fund-raising efforts.
In a 2001 letter to the Parole Board, the Honorable John P. Lomenzo, the judge who had sentenced Jim, looked at Jim’s his inside record based on documents sent to him by a local Attorney. Lomenzo called Jim’s inside record “exemplary” and wrote a letter to the Parole Board recommending his release. (Judge Lomenzo went on to become New York State's Attorney General.) The letter was later discovered missing from Jim's parole file.
Despite his 'exemplary' inside record, recommendations from prison officials and the original sentencing judge, and despite the determinations by mental health professionals that he is neither mentally ill and no longer poses a danger to society, the parole board continues to deny him parole.
The fact that none of the Commissioners on the Parole Board have backgrounds in mental health and are continuing to ignore the facts of Jim’s case, possibly committing 'fraud' since 1982 by repeatedly telling the media that this prisoner “has made no efforts to rehabilitate himself” and that he is “still a danger” to society should be of concern!
His wife wants her husband to come home. Joyce is now 82 and Jim is 83. They met while Joyce was coordinating arts programming in Auburn Prison as a volunteer. They have been married 25 years.
For years Jim – as well as other inmates who are deserving of being heard – are caught in a tragic Catch-22 with their appeals. First they must appeal the denial of parole to the Parole Board. When the commissioners do not reply in the required 120 days, the inmates then brings an Article 78 in the county in which his prison is located. That can take 5-6 months before the Court responds. When their appeal is denied at that level, it is taken to the Appellate Court and then to the NY State Court of Appeals. Each lower court usually rubber stamps the parole board’s decision. By the time the case is pending in the Court of Appeals, two (2) years have usually elapsed and they are again ... in front of the Parole Board. This makes their prior appeal go 'moot'! A 'Catch-22'. The timelines in the court system makes it impossible for a parole denial to be heard by even the highest court in NY State.
By a 'fluke' Jim is currently appealing the denial of his 2012 parole hearing in the U.S. Supreme Court but since less than 1% of cases are heard ... the likelihood of it being considered is unlikely.
James Moore is also suspect that most of the favorable exhibits supporting his 'exemplary' inside record have been removed from the file that the parole board members review prior to making their decision. This was confirmed recently when the Supreme Court Judge hearing his appeal of the 2014 parole denial requested all the documents in the file that was in front of the Parole Board. When Jim received a copy of the exhibits included in that file, he realized that NONE of the favorable exhibits had been included, not the findings of the mental health professions, not the positive information about his activities inside DOCS facilities, not his educational achievements, and not the recommendation letters by the Auburn Prison Supt. or the sentencing judge (now deceased). A DOCS employee known as the “parole officer” inside each prison prepares the file that is given to the parole board. The inmate is not allowed to see that file before or afterwards, so there is no check or balance on this process.
So, it may be that the Parole Board has never seen the information that would support Jim’s release because DOCS has intentionally omitted that information from the file provided to the Parole Board. (This year is the first year that any judge hearing his appeal of denial of parole has requested to see the documents in his file that were before the parole board.)
It is important to mention that one of most damaging events that has curtailed James Moore from getting released is the fact that thousands of signatures on petitions to “keep the inmate in prison” have been collected by uniformed sheriff's deputies at public venues every two years ... since his first parole board appearance in 1982!
James Moore is the ONLY inmate in New York State that petition drives have been conducted in order to keep him in!
Now you know the reason for THIS petition drive ... to get more than the numbers on the petitions they have that say “release the inmate because he deserves to go home!”
Hopefully you will add your name to this petition and THANK YOU for doing so!
For copies of any support documentation that confirms what is included herein, contact:
Joyce Smith-Moore at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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