Man who murdered two moms in 1977 is being freed — and it’s Cuomo’s fault: Devine
The New York state parole board is the latest institution to fall to the left’s war against law and order.
Last month, the board astonishingly granted parole to a homicidal gang rapist who was the ringleader in one of the most sadistic crimes in New York history.
Sam Ayala was 26 when he committed a Westchester home invasion with two pals in 1977, brutalizing two moms, Bonnie Minter and Sheila Watson, in the presence of their four small children, before shooting them a dozen times and laughing about it.
Murder does not get much worse, and Ayala’s remorse is nonexistent, according to Bonnie Minter’s son, Jason, who was 6 years old when he heard his mother being murdered in the next room.
Yet the parole board, in its wisdom, has granted Ayala his freedom from Sept. 3. It is what Gov. Cuomo designed it to do.
Of 16 members of the parole board, all but two are his appointments. Five were appointed in December and four in 2017.
The board refresh followed a concerted campaign by criminal justice reform activists, amplified in the pages of The New York Times, alleging discrimination against minorities and a bias toward punishment rather than rehabilitation.
Cuomo and the state Senate obligingly fixed that perception by appointing new members who would bow to the new paradigm: criminal rights are everything. Out go victims’ rights, embedded in the criminal justice system since the early 1980s, in response to a nationwide crime wave. In come social workers, as we set about repeating history.
Jason Minter, now 50, has had to address the parole board every 18 months since Ayala became eligible for parole in 2002. While it was excruciating to relive his victim impact statements, each time parole was denied.
But something changed this year, and it wasn’t the coronavirus.
To grasp what has gone wrong with the parole board, we must go inside the June 19 meeting last year of the state Senate’s Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections Committee as they interviewed seven new candidates put forward by Cuomo to join the parole board and change its very nature.
Pulling the strings was Sen. Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx), sponsor of a parole reform bill requiring the release of all eligible prisoners unless they present an “unreasonable risk” to the community.
The bill was introduced before the state Senate and Assembly last year but has not yet gone to either chamber for a full vote.
As if the rising crime and disorder around us is not enough, the architects of the criminal justice reform catastrophe are not done yet.
Of the seven candidates considered, just one was rejected: Richard Kratzenberg, the only white candidate, a former corrections officer and parole officer. That counted against him, as did the fact he was “also formerly a registered Republican”, according to a dirt sheet circulated by the “Release Aging people in Prison” activist group.
“He repeatedly conveyed an archaic belief that a person’s crime of conviction — and not their record of rehabilitation or transformation — should be the primary factor when making parole release determinations,” the RAPP document said, sliming him as an agent of “New York’s ugly, racist legacy of ‘tough-on-crime’ policies and mass incarceration.”
At the June 19, 2019, hearing, Kratzenberg made the mistake of saying “victim impact is significant” when considering parole.
Also important was the “seriousness of the offense . . . was there any violence . . . the rap sheets, the nature of the criminal history . . . how [the inmate] behaved while incarcerated. I believe there is some correlation between someone’s behavior inside and their possibility for successful release.”
The commonsense sentiments enraged Rivera.
In discussions afterward, Rivera is captured on video saying: “I don’t trust somebody with 30 years in the Corrections system . . . He is not going to bring any type of new energy to the board.”
By new energy he apparently meant bleeding hearts who won’t oppose his radical decarceration agenda.
The other five nominees passed Rivera’s purity test. There was black Baptist pastor Michael Corley, black criminal justice professor Sheila Samuels, black nonprofit welfare agency executive Carlton Mitchell, Korean-born former public defender Chanwoo Lee and Hispanic Elsie Segarra, who passed muster despite her parole officer background, saying: “At times I was considered an agent of change in the community.”
Samuels may have started out as a prosecutor, but she went on to be a defense attorney and academic and now professes “a passion for criminal justice and social work.”
It was clear to the candidates what was expected from the Legislature that brought us the “reforms” that have delivered menace to our streets.
Parole reform is the next step to turning law-abiding New Yorkers into prisoners in their homes, as the problems once confined to correctional facilities spread to city streets.
Thus, the parole board evolves over time to suit the agenda of Rivera and fellow activists.
Also throughout the hearing, Rivera was obsessed with the reasonable community expectation embedded in the law governing parole, that release “is not incompatible with the welfare of society and will not so deprecate the seriousness of his crime as to undermine respect for law.”
While criticizing Kratzenberg, Rivera slammed his fist on the table: “We need to change the law because this law is bulls–t. It allows for someone who has in his or her head [that] this person is never going to see the light of day [that] letting out somebody that committed a murder 30 years ago . . . that will be a deprecation undermining respect for the law.”
Ayala is an example of the sort of monster whose release undermines respect for the law. He received two concurrent 25-to-life sentences for the rape and murder of Minter and Watson. The following year the law was changed to ensure time would be served consecutively, but it was too late for justice for Minter and Watson.
In sentencing Ayala in 1978, Judge Richard Daranco said the sentence was the maximum possible under state law. Minter says the judge “wanted this fact to go on record so that parole board members would know it was the court’s wishes to have Ayala . . . in prison for life.”
Who’s next for release, asks Jason Minter. Son of Sam?
Positive hint for Trump in poll
Behind the headlines of the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll is good news for President Trump as the nominating conventions begin.
Yes, nationally Joe Biden polled 9 points ahead of Trump — 50 percent to 41 percent. But, asked to rate their feelings for each candidate, 30 percent of those polled felt “very positive” toward Trump in August compared with 18 percent who felt that way about Biden.
For Trump, that’s close to his all-time high of 33 percent in January 2020.
Biden, on the other hand, has plummeted 17 points from a “very positive” score of 35 percent in January 2017, and 30 in January 2018, when Trump was registering just 20 and 24, respectively.
And on the No. 1 issue of concern to voters, Trump was rated as better at handling the economy than Biden by 48 percent to 38 percent.
On the question of how they would feel if Trump/Biden were elected president in November, 27 percent of those polled said they would feel “optimistic and confident” that Trump would “do a good job,” while only 19 percent would feel the same way about Biden.
Now it’s true that more felt “pessimistic and worried” that Trump would “do a bad job” — 48 percent, compared with Biden’s 36 percent.
But it is clear that the president has the lock on optimistic, positive Americans, which suggests much will depend on the mood of the country come November.
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