The commission that released former New York State Senator Guy J. Velella from jail three months into his one-year sentence routinely violated state law in the way it freed inmates, and its new members should review the legality of many of its releases, say New York City investigators. The New York Times says the city’s Department of Investigation described the Local Conditional Release Commission as a slipshod, ill-informed panel that failed to maintain basic records. The investigators said that the four-memer panel acted too soon after it had rejected his first application to get out of jail. Velella hired the husband of a panel member as a legal consultant to advise him on the panel’s procedures.
Very few people in the city, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, had heard of the release commission before it freed Velella. Such panels were created under a state law enacted in 1989 authorizing them to release individual prisoners to help with prison overcrowding. The need for such releases shrank as prison populations declined. Velella and his co-defendants were 3 of just 13 people released by the New York City panel in the past six years.